Film Review: Every Parent’s Nightmare In The Ones Below

The Ones Below, in cinemas ★★★☆☆

By Stuart Black Last edited 34 months ago
Film Review: Every Parent’s Nightmare In The Ones Below The Ones Below, in cinemas 3
Clémence Poésy and Stephen Campbell Moore in The Ones Below.

House sharing in London has long been the stuff of cinematic nightmares.

Both Michael Powell’s seminal Peeping Tom and Roman Polanski’s Repulsion made sweaty capital out of nagging neighbours encroaching on space and sanity. The Ones Below is a solid addition to this mini-genre of all too recognisable psychological horror.

Here, two couples live together in a grand terraced house: one upstairs in original-featured bliss (Clémence Poésy and Stephen Campbell Moore), the other downstairs in crisp minimalist joy (David Morrissey and Laura Birn).

Both are perfect middle class specimens: capable homegrown men and strong continental women. Hard to tell them apart in fact, especially when it becomes clear that both females have fallen pregnant at exactly the same time.

A dinner party seems to be exactly the thing they should be doing, but a missing pinch of saffron, some bad attitude and a broken light bulb conspire to change the fates of each pair.

The tension then ramps up as it becomes clear that the living arrangement has become untenable.

It’s a suitably uncomfortable watch put together with care by David Farr, writer of the BBC's The Night Manager, here making his big screen debut as writer-director.

Some of the scenes are a bit contrived and the acting isn’t always that supple, but the awkwardness somehow adds to the atmosphere of menace and the few missteps (including some odd costumes and an obviously Astroturfed garden) are forgiven by the cruel yet thoroughly satisfying denouement.

The Ones Below is in cinemas from 11 March.

Last Updated 09 March 2016