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Klokkenluider (BFI London Film Festival 2022)

3 min read
A man and woman sit on a sofa in a darkened lounge, looking towards the camera with worried expressions

With over 100 acting credits, has solidified himself as the go to hard man in British crime and horror films – from the iconic horror Kill List to the more recent Bull. sees Maskell in the director's chair for the first time (well, he directed a short back in 2010) with a script he wrote – a wickedly funny thriller that will keep audiences on their toes.

Ewan (Amit Shah) is our titular Klokkenluider (Dutch for whistleblower) currently hiding in a Belgium cottage with his wife Silke (Sura Dohnke). Whatever information they have, it's dangerous enough for them to flee the UK and fear for their lives. Silke is the more headstrong and calm of the two, whilst Ewan quickly slips into despair and panic. 

Heading their way to the cottage are two seemingly nefarious men ( and Roger Evans) clearly armed with guns. In the first of many subverted expectations, they happen to be protection officers tasked to keep Ewan and Silke safe until an investigative journalist arrives to leak the precious information. 

Two men sit at a coffee table in front of a window showing the sea.
BFI

It's clear that Maskell learnt a thing or two working with the likes of Ben Wheatley (who also serves as Executive Producer) and Paul Andrew Williams as Klokkenluider is hilarious and suspenseful in equal measures. Most of that is down to the strong script and even stronger performances, but the primarily single location setting also helps with ensuring laughs and thrills too.

The arises from naturalistic human behaviour in an extraordinary situation. Ewan and Silke gel well together and provide some laughs as they spiral further into madness but it's the bickering bodyguards that steal the show. Burke's and Evans' chemistry is fantastic, clearly getting across that they've worked with each other for some time now. Every exchange between the pair is played completely deadpan and will surely make you laugh out loud every time they rip into each other or cock up in front of their assets. 

On the flip side of the coin is the tension bubbling underneath. Having these two mismatched pairs together under one roof inevitably leads to some verbal conflicts but it's the surveillance-like camera angles and the dread-inducing score that will put audiences on edge. Every character seems to be hiding something from everyone else, and the film slowly builds towards a conclusion that doesn't seem to be a happy ending for anyone.

If there is a piece of criticism towards Klokkenluider, it would be 's character. Comments will be light to avoid spoilers, but while the actor is great as always, her character is written with a different kind of comedy in mind that doesn't gel well with the deadpan, naturalistic style from everyone else. Overall, however, Klokkenluider is a promising feature-length debut from Maskell. The script is sharp, the acting across the board brings it to life and it's simply an entertaining thrill ride. Whether he's in front or behind the camera, definitely keep your eye on Maskell. 

Klokkenluider will be screened at BFI London Film Festival 2022