The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Digital] - CONCRETE PLANS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Digital] - CONCRETE PLANS

concrete plans review
A volatile standoff between a landowner and the builders he refuses to pay.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Will Jewell

Starring: Kevin Guthrie, James Lance, Amber Rose Revah, Steve Speirs

concrete plans poster

I remember a time in the popular imagination when farms were considered cosy pastoral ranges composed of cheerful ruddy faced farmers and equally merry animals; gambolling lambs, stoic cows, cheeky pigs. That homely representation, however, has long since been put out to pasture. Did the sea change occur when telly soap Emmerdale Farm became the suffix-less Emmerdale (the same era which saw grimmer storylines, such as a massive plane crash wiping out most of the characters), or when broadcaster Alan Partridge laid the smackdown on British farmers around the same time: ‘You have big sheds, but nobody's allowed in....’? With their sun kissed, golden acres of swaying corn and gleaming machinery the size of Autobots, American farms are a different prospect entirely; think Children of the Corn or (my favourite) Dark Night of the Scarecrow. British farms, with their unforgiving mud, expansive flatlands and inbred denizens, are a far more unpleasant proposition; think, um, Inbred, the first series of Happy Valley, our old pal Carl Medland’s outsider art Paranormal Farm sequence and The Holding. No wonder really. Working farms are ramshackle arenas wherein bloodshed and murder are essential features of daily business, a place where life is cultivated in order to be tortured and eventually ended, in an industry entirely dependent upon the suffering of animals simply to provide human beings with a little snack now and again. There is something deeply sinister and lawless about a farm - with their remoteness, their subjective morality and liberal gun licenses (not to forget their stupid tractors). You just cannot trust them. Walking through a countryside in close proximity to ‘moy laaaaaaand’ with two curious, mischievous cockerpoos is a bit akin to wandering around South Central in gang territory. A whopping 72% of British land is owned by these potential maniacs: sobering.

concrete plans review

Close to home, then, for me, is Concrete Plans, a Welsh horror-thriller set upon a farm in the Brecon Beacons, Will Jewell’s competent debut which uses its agricultural setting as a muddied lens to view vying modes of masculinity. The plot centres on a bunch of ne’er-do-well builders doing a cash in hand job for farm owners Kevin Guthrie and Amber Rose Revah - a well turned out couple whose good looks and finery emphasise the class divide which powers this cruelly efficient film. Our builders are the usual rag bag- Auf Wiedersehen, Pet through a glass darkly: the big hearted but compromised foreman (played, endearingly, by Steve Speirs), the loose cannon nephew, the old timer on his uppers and a Slavic immigrant looking for honest work. ‘We’re all f**king immigrants round here, butt’, the geezer cheerfully informs Viktor, emphasising the distantly civil otherness of farm life. But, ahhhhh, maybe the two factions have more in common than first appears: gothic signifiers such as an artfully framed sheep skull indicate bucolic mortality, both sides keep secrets from each other and themselves, and at the deeply ploughed root of it all is money and murder, the intertwining functions of farming life.

concrete plans review

You reap what you sow, and, after a slow burn start, it's feeding time at the farm as alliances are split and man turns animal. Speaking of Partridge, James Lance (seemingly channelling Stephen Toast) skirts the narrative as another untrustworthy posho, becoming a vital player in the dark farce of the final act. Horror infects the narrative like a particularly gruesome case of blight, with nail guns yielded and a live burial scene so unpleasant it would have Edgar Allen Poe reaching for his trowel in glee.

concrete plans review

Like the shady characters of the men it so gleefully portrays, Concrete Plans is rough round the edges (how come Merthyr’s finest Steve Spiers bemoans the time he took his sociopathic nephew to the football, but the grown up agnate has a deep set, whiny cockney accent?), but with its hyperbolic violence and scenery chewed like cud, there are enough pastoral pleasures to make this a farmland worth a trespass.

Concrete Plans is on UK Digital from November 23rd.

2020 movie reviews