Dan Pringle’s thriller K-Shop sees the son of a kebab shop owner turn the tables on unruly, drunken customers after his father is critically injured. The film boasts a neat idea but fails to deliver the emotional weight to make it count or the credibility in plot development to compel you to care.
K-Shop’s greatest accomplishment is to put you off having that kebab at the end of a boozy night out. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Particularly if, like me, you love a naan bread stuffed with lamb donner meat and drizzled in chilli sauce after an evening of alcoholic tipples. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I found writer-director Dan Pringle’s effort to be a rather off-putting affair, one drowned in booze culture bleakness and feasting on unsympathetic characters and an uncompromising sense of hopelessness.
Even the film’s protagonist and fast food vigilante, kebab shop manager Salah (Ziad Abaza) evokes very little compassion, his grim actions to “right” perceived “wrongs” unnecessarily stuck in a grey area between hero and villain; both an inconceivable anti-hero and unsatisfying, under-cooked villain. The character isn’t helped by poor plot development as contrivances trump credibility. In fact, his father’s death at the hands of some drunken customers lacks the emotional weight to properly kick-start Salah’s need for vengeance primarily because it’s handled in an improbably, haphazard way.
Admittedly, the gruesomeness of Salah’s first kebab-making experiment will surely thrill gore fans but the fluctuations in tone make K-Shop a difficult film to categorise. There are moments of comic absurdity, psychological suspense and even character study, but the combination is rarely harmonious with episodic chapter points underlining the film’s awkward tonal shifts. Pringle’s strengths – austere electric lighting illuminating angry young men and women taking out their frustrations on the innocent and sober takeaway manager – are suffocated by ill-advised melodrama and a plot that careers out of control.
K-Shop suffers from so many distracting moments of implausible plot turns, any sympathy for Salah is lost under the weight of the film’s flimsy foundations. Pringle deserves credit for drawing attention to the night-time battleground British towns and cities witness after the bars and clubs shut their doors, but his approach isn’t subtle or profound, instead it’s a prosaic stage on which to play out a morbid curiosity of lamb kebabs and relay the old gag about what goes into the recipe.