'Tower Block' has a thrilling storyline that is sure to capture an audience with several twists and turns at almost every corner. However, the big reveal and the climactic ending are wholly laughable and don't make any sense whatsoever, other than to throw the audience off. I would put this film into three categories. First, we have the 'Scooby Doo' aspect as we do not know who the main villain is until the final minute of the film. Second, we have a disaster-type flick on our hands, as a group of survivors is trapped in a large building that is about be demolished, with a sniper trying to kill them. On top of that there is a fire at the top of the building. Third, since we have a band of people trapped inside the building who are being picked off one by one, the film becomes a last man standing scenario. The three plot devices seem to mix well and draw a lot of suspense from start to finish.
The British film begins with some text on-screen explaining that giant residential buildings were constructed after WWII for modest families to live on a budget. Over time, these buildings became populated with vicious criminals and a haven for unlimited crime. At first, I thought this was going to be similar to 'Dredd,' and while it has a couple of similarities, 'Tower Block' stands on its own. So the stage is set for present day in one of these large housing towers.
In the first scene we see a young boy being chased by some older men for reasons unknown. The boy runs into one of these buildings where the pursuers catch him and begin beating him violently. Meanwhile, the residents of this building turn a blind eye and allow this to happen, with the exception of a woman named Becky (Sheridan Smith), who tries to intervene, but is then beaten violently until she is knocked out cold. The bad guys continue to beat the boy and end up throwing him off a ledge to his death. The police come to investigate and ask numerous questions of the residents of the building, but none of them offer any information on any of the attackers, or even offer a valid reason why none of them would come to the aid of a screaming boy crying for help.
We fast forward three months later and the residential building is about to be demolished, although there are still a handful of residents occupying the building. We focus on Becky her boyfriend in their apartment eating some breakfast, when she is suddenly covered in blood, as a bullet passes through his skull, killing him. Directly after this, several other residents are shot and killed from an unknown and unseen sniper. Thus we arrive at the latter part of the film, where the surviving residents band together and try to find a way out of their building without getting killed. But this isn't an ordinary madman these people are dealing with, he has set traps, blocked exits, and covered his tracks as his victims try to navigate their way out, but seem to be foiled at every turn. Needless to say, some of the survivors have deep dark secrets that come to light during the short 88 minute run-time.
Besides the suspense and thrilling sequences of a bunch of people being killed by a sniper in a building, the survivors' growing relationships are what make this film mostly work. It's in the same vein as 'Cube,' where several strangers are forced to work together to survive, but don't always get along and even reveal their true bitter selves. I think the writer and directors wanted to go for a realistic approach here and dive into what normal civilians would do in this particular situation. The results are not always good for the characters.
While 'Tower Block' has some great things going for it, some of the sequences and story lines are completely forced and don't unfold naturally. This all leads up to the final moment of the film with the big villain reveal, which made me literally laugh out loud. It's ridiculous, stupid, and pretty much ruins the movie, as it makes zero sense. If it weren't for that ending, this small flick would have been loads better.
'Tower Block' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The detail looks good for the most part, but the film was shot digitally and has an intentional softness to it. Nothing ever seems to pop off-screen. The color scheme is made up solely of grays and dark blues, with a few hints of red for blood. And as the film goes on and the survivors move throughout the building, the colors get darker.
This is not a well-lit movie, so don't expect a bright and vibrant image here. The skin tones and the rest of the colors in the interior and exterior shots seem muted. But this was intentional as to convey a sense of dread. Black levels seem to run deep and inky though with no evidence of compression problems or banding. This video presentation looks decent for what it is, but it's very dreary to look at.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that is far superior to its video presentation. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. The ambient sounds, like people talking in their apartments and footsteps in the halls, come across nicely on the surrounds. The sniper bullets flying through walls, windows, and skulls sound exceptionally good as we can hear the impact, sound burst, and guts being blown up.
The directionality here is also very good with great dynamic range. The score adds good depth to each scene and keeps us on our toes, while never drowning out the dialogue or sound effects. This audio presentation is top notch.
'Tower Block' does manage to captivate and terrorize the audience from time to time. This is not a family-friendly film and is actually pretty rough. It's not all bad, but the ending almost completely destroys the entire film. With a sub-par and dreary video presentation, and not a whole lot in the way of good extras, I would rent this film first before purchasing.