How well can we ever know the people who live around us? That's the theme of this nice little four-handed psychological thriller that has more than a touch of the Hitchcocks about it.
Kate (Clémence Poésy) and Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) are a married couple, both professionals and a few weeks pregnant, living a confortable life in their London flat. Then some new neighbours move in downstairs – Jon (David Morrissey) and his also-pregnant Finnish wife, Theresa (Laura Birn). Kate and Justin have the other couple over for dinenr and a rather nice evening ensues – until they leave, and Theresa takes a tumble down the stairs. She loses the baby, and so relations between the neighbours turn sour – particularly after Kate gives birth to a son.
The Ones Below – which you would expect to be the title of a horror film, but this doesn't quite go there – is the directorial debut of writer David Farr, best known for the movie Hanna and the BBC TV series Spooks and The Night Manager. It's a fairly solid first effort that almost, but not quite, delivers on what it sets out to do. The fault is more in the script than in the direction or the performances, which are excellent all round – particularly from Poésy and Morrissey. Morrissey really stands out, bring an element of the Governor character that he played so well in The Walking Dead.
The film explores the darker side of and cleverly plays on parental fears parenthood alongside neighbourhood relationships and social dysfunction, but it doesn't all quite hang together in the end. It's a bit of a slow burner, with a paranoid Kate believing that the people downstairs want to steal her son - but is that all in her mind, a touch of post-natal depression? It's reasonably tense and somewhat compelling, and the performances are certainly engaging, but it's a little predictable and silly towards the end.