The World We Knew (
Directed by WW Jones and Luke Skinner
Starring Struan Rodger, Johann Myers, Finbar Lynch
Something’s not right. What should have been a straightforward score has ended in chaos. Cops shot. Gangsters shot. Dreams shot. There are two giant bags of loot but the gang can’t make the split because they’ve been told they have to stay overnight in a crumbling safe house until their unseen gang lord finds out who sold them out. “You know the trouble with these old places?” asks hard-as-nails leader Carpenter (Finbar Lynch) as he surveys the derelict property, “They have rats.” The suggestion that rooting out the rat in the pack will serve as the main narrative for The World We Knew is dispelled pretty early on. This is a character study. A film about regret and remorse and guilty consciences. Something’s not right with any of these men. They’re haunted. Metaphorically, Literally.
The World We Knew is a low budget British film that focuses on the aftermath of a heist. There are similarities in set-up to Reservoir Dogs not least in the snappy dialogue and a few blackly comic and loquacious set-pieces including veteran actor Struan Rodger as Barker delivering a bleak deconstruction of Orpheus in the underworld. And like Reservoir Dogs, The World We Knew is blessed with an incredible ensemble cast including Irish theatre actor Lynch, the aforementioned Rodger, seen in a similar role in Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, and an electric performance by Johann Myers who recently appeared as Padan Fain in The Wheel of Time. Added to these is a promising debut for former model Alex Wells as the frightened first-timer, a perfectly modulated extended death rattle from Simon Rhodes as the critically wounded HP and a deadpan masterclass by co-writer Kirk Lake as the desperate club entrepreneur Stoker.
This is a haunted house film and the ghosts of the premises are teased out by a rich and disorienting sound design in which the very bones of the house can be sensed shifting as if it were getting ready to envelop its unfortunate inhabitants. It’s cloying. Claustrophobic. Directors Skinner and Jones don’t go for easy jump scares but allow the situation to build. A slow, creeping dread. The soundtrack by French band The Liminanas adds another layer. Sometimes the twang of a spaghetti western, or the fuzzed out psyche of a 60s psycho-drama or the delicately menacing vibe of a giallo.
A stark and stylish film, The World We Knew defies easy categorization. It plays with genre tropes in interesting ways. It’s treatment of villains is more reminiscent perhaps of something like Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral than the standard British geezer-gangster flick. Its ideas of ghosts closer to the creepiness of The Innocents (of which it includes one obvious visual nod) to the all out shrieks of the dozens or modern by-the-numbers haunted house flicks. The latest in what seems to be a resurgence of interesting British horror films including Censor, Saint Maud and the forthcoming A Banquet, and filmed for a fraction of the budget of any of its predecessors, The World We Knew pushes its limitations to the very edge. A bold, intelligent new voice in British film-making.
The World We Knew is available on TVOD on various platforms in the USA.
Release dates for the rest of the world to be announced.