Desperate Measures Review

Spoilers Ahead! If you haven’t read about, or seen much of the film in detail I would suggest to see it with fresh eyes as it’s worthwhile and interesting feature to give a go and benefits from those fresh eyes!

Desperate Measures is a great example of not judging a book by its cover; both its sinister poster and its ominous tagline – ‘He’s got hell to look forward to’ – hint at another low budget addition to the uninspiring torture porn exploitation market. And the presence of hard man actors Stephen Lord and Ricci Harnett round out the program for a hard to watch and hardly worth watching feature. Thank goodness then that writer Chris Green and director Steve Looker have chosen to surprise audiences and play with our expectations to mould something that, while not always cinematically satisfying, has some poignant and worthwhile themes to confront.

Awakening from a hallucinogenic and hedonistic night out Ross (Lord) greets an unwelcome hangover and an even more unwelcome environment. In an unknown room of a spartan nature the only conclusion can be kidnapping, and his impertinent, uncouth manner confirms him as someone who warrants a good kidnapping.

He’s a thoroughly unlikeable character who most, at first, won’t harbour too much pity for despite his kidnapping. His captors Jack (Harnett) and George (Max Beesley), equally unlikeable at first, all mould into an abyss of stereotypically lacklustre archetypes undeserving of interest.

However what unravels is a subversive sideways look at the addiction, rehabilitation and reconciliation of Ross’s character. Being held hostage for his drug taking ways his captors have got a mission: go clean or go home (or not) and they’re ruthlessly efficient about it. This is every Conservative Party member’s dream rehabilitation program.

As Ross’s licentious world unravels, unexpectedly moving and believable relationships develop between the trio of men, who indeed aren’t all that different. All have demons and all are groping towards some essence of psychological pacification to heal their wounds. Their proximity and testing of each other reveal piece by piece more intricate moments of humanity and indeed what it means to be good to another human being.

Eroding and creating some emotional tethering between viewers and the originally grotesque stereotypes is a steep cinematic mountain to climb but nonetheless one that’s handled with capability. Ross and his captor’s metamorphoses are very much worth sticking around for.

As vehicle for demonstrating attitudes towards drugs it doesn’t get too bogged down with ethics, preferring to focus on its characters and their development. However, though, notions of liberty vs societal effect, responsibility of self and other, and familial culpability are circled around – effectively compelling in their exposition.

It suffers from a TV movie-esque feeling at times, and it feels as though this will find it’s natural home on either DVD or as television thriller, but without doubt one that’s worth seeing. It makes deft use of its own surprise and most certainly benefits from the original trepidation of audiences. It’s a different type of hell to the one you might expect but one that, odd as it sounds, is worth venturing down for. A triumph for low budget British psychological thrillers.

Desperate Measures is released on DVD on the 11th July

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