Bait (AKA. The Taking) (2015) Review.
The struggles of post-recession Britain is the subject matter for Dominic Brunt’s brand new hard-hitting feature, Bait (AKA. The Taking). Bait is the second full-length genre film from collaborative husband and wife team Mitchell-Brunt Films following 2012’s zombie drama Before Dawn. Much like Before Dawn, Bait is a bleak, gritty and powerful piece of British cinema however packs an even harder punch with its all too realistic subject matter and no holds barred violence.
Adapted from a story by Writer/Actress/Producer Joanne Mitchell; Paul Roundell’s screenplay is intensely compelling as it focuses on two close friends who endure a terrifying ordeal at the hands of a dangerous loan shark in a sleepy Yorkshire village. Bex (Victoria Smurfit) and Dawn (Mitchell) attempt to make their dream of running their own café a reality after years of hard yet unrewarding work selling cakes at their local market hall. Their luck seemingly begins to change once they meet the charming and charismatic Jeremy (Jonathan Slinger); an independent businessman who is more than willing to help them get their new business up and running. But is there more to Jeremy than meets the eye? Have Bex and Dawn got more than they ever bargained for?
Bait proves to be a gripping edge of the seat horror/thriller, with plenty of twists and turns around every corner. The characters are layered, dynamic and flawed which brings in a sense of realism that the situation at hand could happen to anyone; they reflect everyday people in everyday life. Bait’s main strength is its strong performances from the entire cast. Mitchell and Smurfit are flawless as the two friends, determined to improve their lives. Both actresses work extremely well together, with believable chemistry. Smurfit brings a certain feistiness to Bex while Mitchell plays Dawn with a timid nature. The two characters opposing traits complement each other, allowing the audience to empathize with both and get a sense of their individual motivations.
Jonathan Slinger is outstanding as the menacing Jeremy in an unforgettable performance. His ability to frighten and intimidate is a horrifying watch. He makes it incredibly easy to root for our heroines once the stakes are raised. The film also stars Rula Lenska (Coronation Street) and film and television actor Adam Fogerty, both bring in strong screen presences playing characters with vital roles within the story.
Bait is interesting in what it does. It’s an exceptionally difficult film to watch in several ways containing both disturbing and some upsetting moments. It’s highly intense throughout and unrelenting. However a sense of humour is not completely obliterated from the film as Brunt throws in some light relief amongst the tension. Fans of Inbred will get a kick out of a cameo from everyone’s favourite ferret fondler Mark Rathbone!
The use of sound is incredibly effective allowing the audience to get a sense of what the characters are experiencing. The bleak cinematography captures a chilling tone with lingering shots that create extreme dread in the more distressing moments.
Bait not only operates as a disturbing thriller, it highlights important issues within British society. The focal point is of course financial struggle in our desolate economic climate; and the vulnerability of the elderly, the very young and autism is also explored through this. Bait also looks at the flaws within the system, the failings of the authorities and sexual abuse.
An intelligent, well-acted thriller with an all too very realistic theme, it’s a story of survival, endurance and friendship in the hardest of times.
Hayley Alice Roberts.