Part Revenge Film. Part British Gangster Film. All Horror Film. BULL will surprise and delight many who are attuned to its specific genre mashup.
Writer/Director Paul Andrew Williams’ BULL is a lean and mean revenge film with more than a few surprises. Anchored by a truly great performance by Neil Maskell.
A decade after a truly horrifying tragedy, Bull (Maskell), a low-level enforcer, shows up in the small sea-side village he used to call home. Bull is there to take vengeance on those responsible for that fateful night. Though what happened exactly is as much the mystery as Bull’s reappearance to truly horrified accomplices and his former father-in-law and boss (David Hyman). As Bull takes no mercy on those responsible two things become quite clear; that he will not stop until his work is done and there may be more to Bull’s reappearance than just vigilante justice.
Williams has created a film that in a lean sub-90-minutes is as much an effective Horror Slasher film as it is a British Gangster film. Shades of High Plains Drifter and The Kill List, BULL is neither of those two films but feels like a good reference point. Williams is not shy about letting the film become a truly horrifying slasher film as he knows there is a point to it. What makes the film so agile and pointed is that the payoff that is built-in to a perfectly executed film. A payoff that should be experienced rather than discussed and ruined by reviewers.
BULL’s horror revenge exterior hides the core emotional story of loss and grief that transcends the subgenre confines of its story. The brilliance of the film is casting Maskell as the lead. Rather than playing Bull as this badass avenger, Maskell plays him as a tortured soul that can only move forward towards the inevitable conclusion. Saying too much about the performance itself and what specifically makes the work so accomplished would be to ruin one of the year’s best reveals and performances.
Like many of the great British Gangster films, BULL defies the conventions of the genre to give us something that does transcend. BULL and the British Gangster Film is better off for it.