Detective Ryan Barnes (Matt Hookings) has his world turned upside down when his wife ends up in a coma following a car accident. Spending his days visiting her and desperately hoping she’ll recover, Ryan is pulled into a case involving a spate of deaths of old people suffering from dementia. As the bodies begin to pile up, Ryan suspects that the deaths aren’t coincidental as they first appear and he believes they are the work of a serial killer.
Self-distributed by the film-makers behind it, Winter Ridge is garnering plenty of buzz. Directed by Dom Lenoir and written by Ross Owen Williams, the film has the feel of a classic Agatha Christie story with the influence of the slew of Scandi-noir series that have kept viewers riveted over the past few years. The premise is a traditional whodunit but writer Owen Williams has injected it with some topical issues around degenerative diseases and issues around loneliness for elderly people.
Winter Ridge looks very impressive. The seaside location acts almost like a character in the film and the cinematographer is spectacular. You wouldn’t guess that the film was shot on a small budget and it looks better than most BBC dramas you see these days. Equally the story reels you in and you become quickly invested in Ryan. As with all crime dramas you get plenty of red herrings along the way and it’s fun to try and spot the clues in a bid to unveil the killer before Ryan does.
Not everything works here though. The unveiling of the culprit felt a bit rushed and as is often the case with crime dramas, the explanation is a little convoluted. Personally it didn’t really bother me but I did feel the climax could have done with a little more room to breathe. I’d also have liked to dig into some of the characters a little bit more but at 86 minutes, there’s not an awful lot of time to really do that.
Matt Hookings is very strong as lead character Ryan. He’s charismatic and he does a great job of bringing an edge to his performance. Hookings is strong when he needs to be but he’s also impressive in the more vulnerable scenes he has. I felt like there could be more films with him in the lead and I’d like to see him in different situations and solving other cases. Hannah Waddingham adds a bit of star power as therapist Joanne Hill and she makes a real impact.
Winter Ridge could easily have been a crime series rather than a film. It’s an ambitious project by the film-makers and they pull it off admirably. Yes the storyline hits a few tropes of the crime genre and it follows a well-worn formula but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of it. There’s plenty of scope to continue the world that’s created in Winter Ridge and I wouldn’t be opposed to spending more time in it.
Cast: Matt Hookings, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Hannah Waddingham, Michael McKell, Justin McDonald, Alan Ford, Ian Pirie, Noeleen Comiskey Director: Dom Lenoir Writer: Ross Owen Williams Certificate: 15 Duration: 86 mins Released by: Camelot Films Release date: 5th September 2018