Victims, pushed to their limits, turn aggressors in a starkly polarized debut thriller.
There’s no mistaking the villains in Australia-based Reece’s black-and-white story of cold-eyed, remorseless schoolgirl bullies; suave, vindictive, philandering husbands; and greasy, smelly, drug-pushing burglars. Nor the heroes either: Clever English schoolgirl Shelley and her equally smart mother Elizabeth are the endlessly meek “mice” who have lived through a chapter of horrors and recently moved into a remote new home to start afresh. Elizabeth’s divorce has stripped her of money and forced her into a job where she is overworked and underpaid. Shelley, bright but innocent, has seen her friends turn violently against her, their final attack landing her in the hospital, burned and scarred. Rebuilding their lives in Honeysuckle Cottage, the women begin to rediscover contentment until a thief breaks in and unleashes their repressed anger, setting off an escalating sequence of bloodshed. Reece has a strong visual sense and does a neat job of ratcheting the tension, but a shortage of subtlety and Shelley’s histrionic adolescent narration create an overall mood of near-comic caricature.
Mice roar and worms turn in a bare-bones moral fable that, despite visceral episodes, creates little impact.