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Calibre – Review (2018)

Horror, Drama, Thriller | 101 Min
  • Martin McCann, Kate Bracken, Tony Curran
  • 8

    Movie Info

    • Director: Matt Palmer
    • Actors: Jack Lowden, Martin McCann, Kate Bracken, Tony Curran
    • Release Date: 29 Jun, 2018
    • Country: United Kingdom
    • Genres: Drama, Thriller, Horror
    • Language: English
    • Metascore: 76
    • Plot: A shocking deed turned their weekend trip into a nightmare. Now their only hope is to swallow their paranoia and act normal.
    • Parental Guidance: Language, Violence, Violence against animals, Violence against Children, Alcohol, Drug references.
    • Tagline: You Can't Bury the Truth

    I suppose, technically, I shouldn’t review Calibre. I find it hard to class as a horror movie. It really is more of a thriller but, hell, I think it ticks enough boxes to class it as something of a horror, at least in spirit. The tension and mood would be very fitting in any horror movie. I really can’t turn down an opportunity to review an actually decent Netflix original horror movie, either, so here we are.

    Before we start, I should point out that Calibre is a fairly slow paced thriller movie with a decent length runtime of 101 minutes. If you don’t enjoy slow paced movies, this may not be for you. I felt as though the pacing was fantastic but if you are expecting a ton of action, this is probably not for you and you may find yourself a bit bored.

    We Do Things a Little Different

    As always, here at Knockout Horror, we are just presenting a review of a movie. We want to take the pretention out of the horror review scene. We don’t get into the philosophical aspect of movies or analyse the director’s intentions or vision. Loads of horror movie review sites do this already.

    We want to do things a little different and offer things up as if we are two people in a room chatting. For full disclosure, my partner picks the movies and I review them so I don’t go into a movie with any preconceived ideas. We watch a movie and we tell you if we thought it was worth your time, nothing more. Hell, we’ll even help to explain the ending if we can. If that’s your thing, stick around, check out some more horror movie reviews and support your local, non-pretentious, horror review site.

    British Horror

    Despite being Welsh, I have never been a particularly big fan of British horror. Sure, there are plenty of old classics that I absolutely love but British horror of the 2000’s / 2010’s just hasn’t done it for me. I find British horror to be particularly grim. Not so much in the themes and subject matter, but the general greyness of the environment and some of the filming techniques employed. It’s all just a bit depressing.

    Scene From Netflix Horror Movie Calibre

    Calibre manages to avoid the usual gloominess of British horror movies.

    Take fellow Netflix movie No One Gets Out Alive for example. This is a movie based on a British novel and directed by British producers. The novel is set in Birmingham in England. The thought of watching the events of No One Gets Out Alive but set in Birmingham genuinely makes me shudder. Britain is just a bit of a depressing place and everyone here knows it, deep down. I am pretty sure this is where our sarcastic, self deprecating, humour comes from.

    I know we have some fiercely proud people in the UK so I am just getting in before the people who might say “You just don’t live in a decent part of Britain. Where I live is lovely and not depressing at all”; I live in a stunning rural part of North Wales about a half hour drive away from some of the most amazing parts of the UK. One of my greatest pleasures is getting in our convertible, dropping the top and driving to Snowdon and then back down along the coast. Britain is stunning in parts but it is also a bit grim and the generally awful weather doesn’t help.

    Where British horror does shine, however, is with its small, independent horror productions. I could reel off a decent sized list but movies like St Maud, The Borderlands and Exhibit A are all worth a watch. Calibre is another example of the UK’s ability to put out fantastic, thoughtful horror.

    Stalking Gone Wrong

    Calibre follows the story of Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and Marcus (Martin McCann) as they take a short retreat in Northern Scotland to go stalking (hunting). Vaughn has recently found out that his partner is pregnant and he will soon be a father so this trip is something of a final hurrah, at least for awhile, between him and the more free spirited Marcus.

    Marcus picks Vaughn up in his Jeep and takes him to a village he used to frequent, with his dad, when he was a kid. They check into their hotel and head off to the pub for a night of drinking. This probably isn’t the brightest idea seeing as firearms and alcohol don’t mix. Don’t people normally leave incredibly early for hunting, as well? Like….. 5am. Anyway, the guys meet a couple of girls on their night out. Marcus takes an obvious liking to a particular girl but is warned off by a local who claims she is trouble. Vaughn spends time with the other girl but informs her that he has a partner and she is pregnant before returning to his hotel room.

    The next morning, Marcus bounces into Vaughn’s room. Vaughn is hungover and somewhat out of sorts. It turns out that Marcus is taking cocaine, hence his energy levels and enthusiasm. The pair drive to their hunting location only for Vaughn to realise, in his hungover stupor, he has forgotten to bring his gun. Rather than drive back, Marcus hands his other gun to Vaughn to use. The two head into the forest and spot a deer. After lining up his shot, Vaughn pulls the trigger and from here on out everything goes wrong.

    Vaughn from Calibre

    This is probably not going to end well

    Obviously I won’t spoil the movie and tell you what happens but Marcus and Vaughn return to the village knowing what happened in the woods and have to keep their cool so they can return home. It’s a gripping story that keeps you interested throughout.

    Shit Goes South

    Calibre is a thriller with some serious horror themes. The plot is fairly simple but not in a derivative manner. It’s a believable scenario with realistic responses. The movie is presented from an interesting perspective in that you and the characters know what happened in the woods but nobody else does.

    The escalation of the events surrounding Marcus and Vaughn as they attempt to act normal, see out the rest of their trip, and interact with the locals before going home is fascinating to watch. Everything spirals in such a way that you are genuinely waiting for the next scene wondering what will happen. Can it be a bit predictable? Sure, but never in a manner that gets in the way of the suspense.

    A Believable Scenario

    Calibre creates a very real world and the events of the film feel like something that could happen, and in fact has happened, in real life. Nothing about the plot is too far out of the realms of possibility and, with a little stretching of normal human reactions, the response to the events from the main characters seems very believable.

    Considering the fact that both Vaughn and Marcus are hungover, the fact that Vaughn forgot his weapon, and the fact that Marcus is taking cocaine; the actions of the characters make a lot of sense. There are plenty of small twists to the story to keep you guessing as to what will happen next and I never felt myself losing concentration or interest during the, fairly lengthy, 101 minute runtime. I actually wanted to see what the two would do next and how they would deal with the situation.

    So Many Positives

    Calibre is a legitimately great movie and a fantastic feature length debut for Matt Palmer who, in fairness, does pretty much everything right. There are plenty of things to praise the movie for so picking out specific elements is a little tough. It’s just a genuinely solid movie.

    First and foremost, acting is brilliant throughout. Jack Lowden, as Vaughn, and Martin McCann, as Marcus, are both fantastic. This is important as, for the most part, you will be spending a lot of time with them. They are both extremely convincing and Jack Lowden’s range of emotion throughout the film is exceptional. A real stand out horror performance that had me convinced from the beginning to the end. There isn’t a particularly bad performance in Calibre, everyone is fantastic and the mostly Scottish cast does a great job of creating a believable village community.

    Marcus from Netflix horror movie Calibre

    Marcus, played by Martin McCann, seems a little unhinged

    That leads me onto another point. If you are expecting a backwards Scottish village ala The Wicker Man, you will be surprised. This is a mostly welcoming community that is suffering from the same issues as the rest of the UK with hits to business and tourism. Like many of us, they are just trying to build themselves back up. Sure they have their typical village inward tendencies but the community is genuinely representative of many small communities in this country.

    The village’s social group and attempt to rebuild their economy plays into the greater overall story. The resident’s reactions to the presence of Vaughn and Marcus and their reactions to the events surrounding them are, perhaps, a little different to what you may expect and leads to a far more interesting ending.

    Cinematography is Excellent

    Cinematography in Calibre is brilliant. It is really nice to look at with some incredible locations, interesting shots and amazing lighting. The forest is imposing, especially at night, and very atmospheric. The village is quaint and the indoor scenes are all fantastic. This all sets the mood perfectly and there are plenty of creative shots used to maintain the tension.

    Don’t expect any jump scares here. Calibre is not that type of movie. It aims to kill you with suspense and does a good job. Sound mixing is really good and you never feel shocked by any unexpected loud noise which is a nice change from most recent horror.

    Scene From Netflix Horror Movie Calibre

    Some of the locations in Calibre are stunning.

    Although there is something of a message buried in here about the economic impact on small village communities and small economies but it never gets in the way and the film isn’t at all centred around this. The movie really just aims to point out that life can be tough for rural communities who get little help from the local authorities and have to deal with problems within their own groups.

    A Fairly Long Runtime

    Calibre runs at a fairly lengthy 101 minutes. That is a decent amount of time for a character driven thriller with a notable lack of action. You are really relying on excellent character performances to keep things chugging along but, luckily, Calibre has that in spades. In my opinion, the pacing is perfect and I never found myself to be bored or mentally switching off.

    I think the best compliment I can give a movie with a 101 minute runtime is that it didn’t feel as long as it actually was. I think most people will find themselves engrossed in what happens next and too invested in the actions of the main characters to worry about how long the movie has been running.

    Vaughn from Netflix Horror Movie Calibre

    Jack Lowden, as Vaughn, puts on a fantastic performance.

    I do think the length and pacing will put a few people off, though. I think there was a number of scenes that could have been shortened right down or cut altogether to keep the runtime a little shorter and the pacing a little better. The pub scene is altogether too long, I think the scene between Vaughn and his partner could have been skipped as we still go through a bunch of exposition in the car, and there are a few more scenes that could have been trimmed a bit. Overall, given all of the above, I still think the pacing was fine and if you don’t mind a slow pace you will do just fine.

    Just a Fantastic Thriller But… a Warning

    The combination of fantastic acting, suspense, cinematography, and the urge to find out what happens next make Calibre a brilliant movie. If you are a fan of suspenseful thrillers with some horror trimmings, Calibre should scratch that itch.

    I think that it is worth me mentioning that there are some uncomfortable scenes that you should be aware of. While not particularly gory, the themes of Calibre are uncomfortable at times and the thought of some of the actions is pretty gnarly and wince inducing. It doesn’t compromise on its themes and presents things in something of a cold, matter of fact manner. Most horror vets will be just fine but some people may feel a bit irked at times.

    Is it a Knockout?

    Calibre is absolutely a knockout, in my humble opinion. Whilst not a traditional horror and more of a thriller, horror fans with an appreciation for a slow paced suspense based story will find a lot to enjoy here. The acting is incredible throughout, Jack Bowden is a name to watch and does an amazing job. Calibre keeps you guessing throughout and, whilst fairly predictable, the story takes you on a journey full of twists and turns.

    Cinematography is really great with amazing locations and fantastic lighting. Calibre is a long movie with a runtime of 101 minutes. The pacing, to me, was absolutely fine but this movie may be a little slow for some people so worth keeping in mind. There are a few scenes that might be upsetting and the theme, itself, is a little unsettling but that is what gives it its horror leanings.


    Where to Watch:

    You can watch Calibre right now on Netflix. I am pretty sure it is not available to buy so should remain on Netflix indefinitely.



    Trailer: Calibre

    Horror, Drama, Thriller