Neil Maskell is a face well known to audiences, especially British audiences. With credits such as Nil By Mouth, Bull, The Football Factory and Kill List, you could be forgiven for assuming that Maskell’s directorial debut feature might be a gritty, hardcore gangster flick or crime drama. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Klokkenluider, Dutch for ‘Whistleblower,’ is much more akin to a dark comedy. The film stars Amit Shah and Sura Dohnke as a couple who are currently in Belgium staying in a grand house overlooking a vast lake. It would be the idyllic setting for a holiday, if only that is why they were there. Rather the couple are using the house as a hideout following their discovery of controversial government documents. Soon they are joined by two security professionals (Tom Burke and Roger Evans) who are tasked with protecting the couple whilst they await the arrival of a renowned British journalist.
What follows is a chamber piece combining comedy, thriller elements and even a hint of horror. The audience is given very little story bar the premise and so with that in mind, the film’s main focus is on its performances as we watch the characters’ interactions as they wait it out in the house. Each of the casts’ performances are really strong and their verbal sparring is when the film is at its strongest. Maskell is careful to keep the contents of the documents a secret and so whilst it is hinted that they contain something extremely shocking, the audience never finds out what exactly that is.
Klokkenluider presents the audience with an intriguing idea in a stunning setting. It then adds in a disquieting score that hints at something chilling and sinister – all the audience has to do is wait and see what will happen. Indeed as the first act progresses, it feels as though the audience is on tenterhooks. Unfortunately, the film never lives up to its initial promise and as the running minutes tick by the waiting continues. Klokkenluider never really goes anywhere and Maskell picks the simplest and most obvious outcome which feels like such a letdown for a film that seemed to promise so much more.
Maskell could be a really exciting director. He certainly knows how to create a sinister atmosphere and how to draw the audience in. However, Klokkenluider works better as a showcase for its actors rather than its director and overall the feeling was that the film would have worked much better as a short rather than a feature.
Comedy, Thriller | UK, 2022 | 15 | Cinema | 1st September 2023 (UK) | Central City Media | Dir. Neil Masekll | Amit Shah, Sura Dohnke, Tom Burke, Roger Evans, Jenna Coleman