A night ride home as purple dusk fades to black night, it is not the occasion for a warm drink and book before bedtime as Steve and Nicole approach their sprawling rural house and its surrounding buildings at speed, the tall brick walls washed with white floodlights more a fortress than the welcoming lights of home, their high-performance vehicle more a tank than a car, undented by their earlier encounter.
They argument begun even before they had left the party, it continues in the house, he saying she distracted him, she saying he should have stopped when they knocked down the man who stepped out in front of them on the country road, their verbal fight soon turning physical as Nicole accuses Steve of actually swerving to hit the man, taking out his anger with her on a stranger.
Directed by Lawrence Gough from a screenplay co-written with Terry Hughes and Alan Pattison based on Hughes’ play Life’s a Gatecrash, the filmed version of Gatecrash maintains the pared-down character based confrontation of a stage production, the crucial event unseen by the audience who are only witness to the testimonies of the participants as they blame each other, having to decide for themselves which of the pair they believe, who they trust.
Blood easier to wash away than guilt, a terrible night for Nicole and Steve (Them’s Olivia Bonamy and Marcella’s Ben Cura) can only get worse when the phone rings from an unknown number and a policeman comes to the house, his demeanour overly familiar and bordering on aggressive as though he already knows what they have done and has no interest in following procedure of arrest and trial.
With the arrival first of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell‘s Samuel West then Game of Thrones‘ Anton Lesser as an unspeakably awkward good Samaritan, twisting the knife of forced congenial behaviour while his hostess swallows her terror, Steve and Nicole’s lives unravel over the taut ninety minutes, every gear shift spinning into something different but equally ugly.
The minimal cast and single principal location focusing the tension, Gatecrash is a procession of disturbing, destructive and selfish behaviour which is uncomfortable to watch even as it is compelling, no bad deed going unpunished and no easy way out for the husband and wife whose mistake precipitated the trap they are now caught in.