The original content from Netflix is a mixed bag. At times, their original movies are of a similar quality to straight-to-DVD B movies. Mostly though, they release unique content that justifies the monthly subscription on its own. ‘Calibre’ is one of those releases.
The road movie element welcomes you in at first. You find yourself drawn into the conversations, you are being taken along with the protagonists on their journey. Being from the countryside, the road trip struck a cord with me. I have watches similar scenery pass the car window.
However, the film does not keep that comforting atmosphere for long. Writer Matt Palmer takes the ‘stranger comes to town’ structure and creates something totally unique from it.
City dwellers visiting an unwelcoming village is reminiscent of ‘American Werewolf in London’. However, the hook is unique and utterly shocking
Perhaps the realism is what makes the plot events so impactful. It is unlike the work of Tarantino and Lynch in that they have a voice which comes through in their directing. ‘Calibre’ has no voice, it is cold and objective in the best way.
It almost feels like a documentary were it not for the few, very effective cinematic techniques. The stunning Scottish countryside is captured in smooth long takes. It is almost as if the cameraman is trying to fit in all of the forest’s alcoves and god rays.
The natural lighting of the forest is exploited for dramatic effect in the film’s third act. During the chase scene, the dog and Brian McClay suddenly burst out of the shadows. That was really unnerving.
There is a very deliberate lack of music in most of the film’s scenes. The suffocating silence creates a sinister, malignant atmosphere. When the actors stop talking there is a pregnant pause, like something is about to happen.
One of the few overt uses of music is in the introduction, which together with the final shot, perfectly bookends the story. The opening includes a piece of music that illustrates the beauty and isolation of remote landscape. I found myself imagining a scenic view even before the film faded up to a shot of that exact thing.
We are then shown a couple with a perfect life. In the final scene, Vaughn is back with his family. In a haunting moment, he faces the lens and stares desperately at the viewer. We see the beauty of the forest and where it leaves him in the end, a broken man that will never be the same.