Donkey Punch

Film
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This bloody, waterborne horror doesn’t exactly scream with originality, but the filmmakers make up for it with a strong atmosphere of sex and violence – both latent and unleashed – good performances and a mostly imaginative approach to genre.We follow three young British women (Jaime Winstone, Nichola Burley, Sian Breckin) on a girls’ holiday to Mallorca. They meet four well-spoken boys, deckhands in charge of a yacht, and drinks flow.

They laugh, they flirt, and cinematographer Nanu Segal makes much of the lazy, early evening sun. We’re soon afloat in the plush vessel, where we remain, enclosed and adrift, as the sun sets and things turn nasty.

The film’s early, easy, erotically charged mood flips on the commission of the aggressive sex act of the title (look it up, it’s not an equine party tipple): the atmosphere of woozy hedonism disappears with the sun. Debut director Olly Blackburn does good work with both scenarios, the before and after. Memories of hazy sunbathing followed by a dark ocean void linger longer than the film’s creaky plot mechanics, which lunge further into the obvious
as time passes.

The women give the best performances (Winstone and Breckin approach an electric sex scene with vim), but the men are more interesting. As Bluey, the bad apple among the boys who introduces drugs and camcorders into the mix (and the phrase ‘donkey punch’), Tom Burke is just the right side of Ralph Brown in ‘Withnail & I’, but it’s the more fresh-faced lads who are the most venal. Blackburn and David Bloom’s admirable script struggles with maintaining the tension once the blood starts flowing, but there’s enough restraint here to label the film respectful trash and Blackburn a talent to watch.

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