Bad Day For The Cut


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Nigel O'Neill in Bad Day For The Cut - A middle-aged Irish farmer, who still lives at home with his mother, sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered.
"Baugh and his co-writer Brendan Mullin have a good feel for how they can push the absurdity of the situation without turning the whole thing into farce." | Photo: Aidan Monaghan

The idea of violence begetting violence is explored in Chris Baugh's taut debut thriller, which sees the long reach of The Troubles collide with the modern malaise of human trafficking. Though its world premiere as part of Sundance's Midnight selection might suggest horror, the demons here are of a much more psychological nature, as the present struggles to outrun the past.

Donal (Nigel O'Neill) isn't really the sort to be interested in politics. He's happy within the confines of his own small farm world, working to restore a campervan in his spare time as much for the joy of it as for the freedom it might offer, and looking after his ageing mum Florence (Stella McCusker). That's until the fateful night he wakes in the night to discover his mum has been killed in what appears to be a robbery gone sour. The plot starts to thicken after the funeral, when a couple of heavies attempt to kill Donal by staging his suicide. Like virtually all the low-level criminals here, they're not the brightest bulbs in the box and soon one of them is dead and the other taken captive.

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It turns out that the thug who is still breathing, Bartosz (Józef Pawlowski), is almost as much as a victim as Donal. He's only taking part in the attempted murder because his sister Kaja (Anna Prochniak) is being sold for sex at the whim of gangsters with a sideline in human trafficking, and so Donal cuts him a deal to try to secure vengeance for both of them.

What follows is a trail of, often blackly comic, carnage as Donal starts to work his way up to queen pin Frankie (Susan Lynch), while simultaneously being forced to dig around in his mother's past, his unkempt, slightly hapless approach to events keeping us onside even when he resorts to violence. Baugh and his co-writer Brendan Mullin have a good feel for how they can push the absurdity of the situation without turning the whole thing into farce. So, although Donal often has to prove his is handy with non-conventional weapons, including an iron, there is always a sense of necessity and urgency to the action that gives it a serious edge. There are some enjoyably dead pan moments, however, such as when a fight is accompanied by 'lift music'. O'Neill has a knack for timing and delivery and, though his film CV is currently quite short for a man of his age, I'd expect it to be lengthening quickly on the strength of this.

While Baugh jettisons some of the film's more anarchic spirit in the latter stages in order to deal with its message about the sins of the parents being visited on the offspring, it adds a welcome emotional undertow to proceedings that is often missing from this sort of genre piece.

Reviewed on: 27 Jul 2017
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When a farmer's mum is murdered, he finds himself on a path for vengeance.... and a journey into her past.
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Director: Chris Baugh

Writer: Chris Baugh, Brendan Mullin

Starring: Nigel O'Neill, Susan Lynch, Józef Pawlowski, Stuart Graham, David Pearse, Anna Próchniak, Stella McCusker, Ian McElhinney, Brian Milligan, Shashi Rami, Lalor Roddy, Ryan McParland, Andrew Porter

Year: 2016

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: UK

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