Set in the mean streets of north-east London, Panic perfectly captures the seedy shadow-economy of "the big smoke" as well as somehow managing to make piss-soaked alleyways and the ominous hue of street-lights look beautiful.
Andrew Deely (David Gyasi) is a lonely music journalist who has an obsession with Kem (Yennis Cheung), a Chinese immigrant living across the way from his flat on a London estate. He creepily watches Kem through his binoculars, building an attachment for her.
One night, during a casual hook up with the mysterious Amy (Pippa Nixon), his date notices Kem being attacked by a huge and very angry man. Andrew is compelled to become part private-eye and part Travis Bickle in his quest to find out what happened to the object of his obsession.
Director and writer, Sean Spencer, has in my eyes captured the look and feel of London so perfectly. For such a modest budget, he has managed to pour nothing but pure quality into every beautiful frame of this movie.
David Gyasi is brilliant in the lead role, a loner and seriously wounded man with an innate sense of justice that has cost him greatly. Although we spend most of our time with him, there are shocking moments throughout this movie that make you question how much do we really know about this protagonist? His descent into the underground economy of the London-based Chinese diaspora gets more and more intense and ever more dangerous as the film progresses. This descent, paired with the direction gives you a feeling of madness, like you the viewer are unravelling at the seams along with Andrew.
Pippa Nixon is also top-notch as Amy. She is drawn to danger and seems intrigued by Andrew’s nihilistic quest, eventually joining him on a very very dangerous road of self-destruction.
Panic features amazing cinematography and atmospheric sound design. The film perfectly conveys the feeling of panic; the heart wrenching and head swirling feeling that everything is rapidly and infinitely spinning out of control. It also captures the innate danger that surrounds London. The way Sean Spencer has managed to capture the Victorian architecture of areas like Shoreditch and Old Street harken back to foggy Victorian alleyways where danger lurks in the shadows
It is a very slow burn, but a little persistence goes a long way. This is one my favourite movies of the year so do yourself a favour and go see this immediately.