Review – Calibre

Matt Palmer’s Calibre is a gritty thriller that takes you through the attempt to cover up an accidental murder in the deep dark depths of the Scottish Highlands. Aided by strong performances and a brutal climax, Calibre will leave you shaking.

What’s it about?

Calibre follows two lifelong friends, Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Martin McCann) on a hunting trip in a small village in the Scottish Highlands. In an unfortunate event, Vaughn misses his shot and ends up killing a young boy on a camping trip with his dad. As they attempt to cover up the events, the villagers grow suspicious.

The perfect setting

I’ve always found something eerie about small countryside villages, they’re isolated from the big hustle and bustle of the cities and form a community that seems intimidating to any outside travellers. Well, that’s how Palmer sets this up anyway, we never feel welcome, even in the heavy booze-filled first night, the claustrophobia of the only pub and strange locals shine through. We are kept away from the inner circles of the community so we are always left in the uncertainty that Vaughn and Marcus feel. Alongside this, we are trapped, the isolation makes it feel like we have nowhere else to go and no escape from Vaughn and Marcus’ guilt.

Odd bunch of villagers

I’ve already expressed my fear of small villages, but something’s more odd about this one. It has a microcosmic society full of strange characters, it’s seemingly self-governed and self-policed. It’s not quite a Hot Fuzz-esque cult of a village, but something still feels off about the whole place. A local, Logan (Tony Curran), knows everyone, he has a strange knowledge of our visitors. Anything they say to anyone filters back to Logan and he remembers it all. He tries to make the pair feel welcome, yet we don’t feel welcome because we feel like he holds the power to bring the villagers together against them. The whole place seems fishy and you are always wary of their whispers in the background wondering what they know.

Vaughn and Marcus, Calibre Films Ltd
Power of silence

Silence at times can be deafening, I never feel safe in silence, Calibre never lets you feel safe. In a film set around hunting, silence seems logical, but that silence extends beyond hunting scenes. You become the hunted. The alienation from this close-knit village community and uncertainty of their mindset, makes you feel hunted. Vaughn and Marcus’ action become self-preservative, trying to camouflage into the village until they can make they can flee, like they are trying to escape hunters.

Strong performances

The cast performs well all around but in particular Jack Lowden. His dismay and disturbance upon shooting the child make us side with him. In a situation in which we would normally turn against a pair of murderers, we don’t. I found myself wanting them to escape and make it home, aided by the fact that Vaughn’s fiancé is pregnant. We know that they don’t deserve to be in the situation they are in and instead want him to be forgiven for a mistake. It’s strange sympathising with murderers but Lowden’s performance sells it, from the moment he fired the gun he was ridden with guilt and unsettled. To top it off, he left me with a final shot that was truly haunting.

To summerise, Palmer’s debut is a special one. It left me shaking, the whole runtime is filled with uncertainty and suspense. It turns our morals on their head and has us siding with a killer and plays on the feeling of being an outsider and trapped. On the whole, Calibre is definitely worth checking out and is available now on Netflix.

My Score: 8/10

If you have seen Calibre feel free to share your opinions in the comments. Also, check out my other reviews and follow me on twitter.


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