out of Five
Running time: 82
Scrappy but engaging British thriller that plays like a low-rent British version of Man Bites Dog, thanks to impressive direction and a strong lead performance from writer-director Nick Nevern.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Nick Nevern, Terry is a fictional film that purports to be actual documentary footage that was handed in to the Metropolitan Police Department (although the actors are all credited at the end). Manuel Atkinson plays film student Charlie Ruez, who decides to follow London skinhead thug Terry (Nevern) for a project.
Terry isn't much of a thug (“I'm not a gangster, I'm just Terry”), but he's definitely something of a geezer and also something of a misogynist; in fact, he spends most of his time hanging around with his best friend Spencer (Ian Duck) – whom he met in prison - and it isn't long before Charlie finds himself increasingly drawn into their world of binge drinking, drugs, bar fights and, um, threesomes. Meanwhile, Terry becomes increasingly annoyed with their street-talking associate Billy Black (Daniel Burten-Shaw) and the simmering tension constantly threatens to explode into violence.
Terry is decidedly scrappy in places and the sound quality is extremely poor in a number of scenes, but that's hardly surprising since the film was apparently shot on a video camera for less than £500 (Nevern's stated intention in making the film is to encourage people to pick up a camera and make their own no-name, no-budget films). That said, the documentary conceit is nicely sustained throughout and the direction is extremely impressive, with Nevern orchestrating a couple of genuinely tense sequences and at least one moment of laugh-out-loud black humour.
As an actor, Nevern has genuinely charismatic presence and somehow manages to remain likeable (or at least sympathetic), even after doing despicable “for a laugh.” There's also strong support from Duck and Burten-Shaw, though Atkinson's character is ultimately under-used.
The main problem with the film is that the story doesn't go anywhere near as far as it should – as such it plays like a low-rent version of 1992's Belgian cult classic Man Bites Dog (where the filmmakers follow a serial killer). Similarly, the film is split into chapter headings that don't really add anything and ultimately detract from the mockumentary style.
Terry is an engaging, well acted and impressively directed British drama that makes a virtue of its low budget and marks writer-director-actor Nick Nevern out as a talent to watch. Worth seeing.