THE PRICE WE PAY *** USA 2022 Dir: Ryûhei Kitamura. 85 mins
Japanese director Ryûhei Kitamura has been in the genre business since the late 90s, scoring a cult hit with the inventive low budgeter VERSUS (2000) and crossing over into visceral American genre fare via the suitably crunchy Clive Barker adaptation THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, alongside vigorous latter-day B-movies like NO ONE LIVES and DOWNRANGE – enlivened by his sense of style and propensity for impressively executed explosions of extreme violence. From British screenwriter Christopher Jolley (SCARE ATTRACTION, REMEMBER ME), THE PRICE WE PAY is characteristically brisk, brutal and unpretentious.
It follows a familiar structure, starting out as a heist-gone-wrong and winding up as a wilfully outrageous gorefest. It’s fun to see Stephen Dorff and Emile Hirsch as a pair of unrepentant sleazebags whose early pawn shop robbery is badly bungled, leaving them wounded and with an inevitably-tough female hostage in tow. They hide out at a seemingly abandoned country farmhouse, where (also inevitably) a grim comeuppance awaits them.
As always, Kitamura relishes grisly detail, with lingering, cringe-inducing moments involving bullet removal and wound cauterising, while the cast are in the spirit of the thing: Vernon Wells, immortalised as Bennett in COMMANDO, and with well over 200 film and TV credits to his name, is great fun as “The Doctor”, relishing the climactic exposition-filled monologues at the point where the plot has truly been let off the leash.
It’s a breezy genre mishmash that ultimately takes us into Lionel Atwill mad science territory and pays off with a barrage of surgical gore, a spectacular fire extinguisher beheading and a showstopping use of barbed wire. It’s slick, fun and you’d have forgotten it by next Wednesday.
Review by Steven West
Out now on UK Digital from 101 Films