K shop: ‘K-Shop’: Review | Reviews | Screen

‘K-Shop’: Review | Reviews | Screen

Commercialised cannibalism has a respectable track record in melodrama, horror and satire – all the way back to Sweeney Todd and Swift’s ‘Modest Proposal’ to a range of cult films like Eating Raoul, Motel Hell and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.  Writer-director Dan Pringle riffs on almost all of these – with a soupcon of Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood and a dash of the TV series Dexter – and takes a surprising turn from gross-out horror into serious indictment of binge-drinking, immigrant-hating Britain with a complex, uncomfortably credible protagonist. 

There’s a rich seam of black humour in punishment meted out to loathsome stag/hen night customers, but the film is surprisingly serious.

An unnamed seaside town (played by Bournemouth) has become a late-night hell-on-earth thanks to overspill of drunken partiers onto the streets.  Pringle punctuates the film with CCTV-style montages of relentless, unlovely booze-fuelled bad behaviour (including some documentary footage).  Late in the day, Big Brother-winning club owner Jason Brown (Scot Williams), the low-rent supervillain who enables the chaos, needles psycho-vigilante Salah (Ziad Abaza) by saying his kind (he means immigrants) don’t know how to have fun and hate and envy the British for their ability to enjoy themselves.  It’s a chilling moment because in this endless party no one (except Brown) has anything remotely like a good time. 

‘Of course have a drink … but don’t be an arsehole,’ warns the copper on the case, only to be ignored by everyone.

Student Salah comes home because his ailing father Zaki (Nayef Rashed) can’t handle running his kebab shop.  Zaki dreams of opening a restaurant in a property which Brown buys and turns into a nightclub called Slush.  Zaki is knocked over by random drunks and dies – and Salah stubbornly keeps the shop open, despite debts which mean no meat delivery.  When yet another drunk customer is aggressive after closing time, Salah shoves the man’s head in the fryer – and has the bright idea of using his body to restock the kebab pole, serving him up as lamb to a pair of obnoxious chancers. 

Salah struggles with his conscience and disgust, but – like Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd – comes to see the logic and justice of recycling corpses as fast food.  Also, his customers love the ‘lamb’.  The parade of blind drunk, appalling people continues and Salah gives up his studies to devote himself to murder and facilitating cannibalism.

Six years pass and Salah’s stripped-down life becomes complicated.  He meets a possible soulmate in budget hotel manager Sarah (Kristin Atherton), acquires ambiguous apprentice-disciple Malik (Reece Noi) and gets into a strange, conversational relationship with Steve (Darren Morfitt), a prospective victim chained to a freezer in the cellar.  He also targets Brown, working to bring down his nemesis – adding a plot-spine to an episodic film. 

There’s a rich seam of black humour in punishment meted out to loathsome stag/hen night customers, but the film is surprisingly serious.  Salah grows more sensitive rather than desensitised as his campaign of murder fails to change the world.  Pringle takes a risk in switching from gross-outs to conversation in the third act, but finds sympathy even for the sweary, aggressive Steve – though the man’s complaints about his harsh childhood (missing half a football match because of his unreliable Dad) are contrasted with Salah’s memories of hiding in acave from a repressive regime’s gas attacks. 

The climax is intricate and full of multiple ironies – and makes a wounded man in a duck costume staggering through the streets a tragic spectacle.  With strong work from a good cast (Abaza in particular), this joins a small group of British horror films rooted in observation and anger (Eden Lake, The Riot Club, Tony). 

Production company: White Lantern Film

Contact: Bulldog Film Distribution, [email protected]

Producer: Adam J Merrifield

Executive producers: Gellan Watt, Tim Little

Cinematography: Chris Fergusson

Production designer: Andrew Soakell

Music: Nina Humphreys

Main cast: Ziad Abaza, Scot Williams, Daniel Morfitt, Kirstin Atherton, Ewen Macintosh

A film that will make you think twice about ever having another kebab

If you have ever wanted to see a film about a kebab shop owner turned vigilante, then writer/director Dan Pringle’s 2016 independent film K-Shop is the one to watch.

When I recently sat down to watch K-Shop, the film’s description described it as a dark comedy where a kebab shop owner starts seeking justice against his drunk and disorderly customers. Now, within the first twenty minutes or so I found the description somewhat misleading because I had imagined it as a British equivalent of the 2010 film Super where Rainn Wilson – after having his wife leave him – decides to become a superhero and punish criminals.

However, Wilson’s method seems to be targeting rude people with little consideration for others, such as someone stealing his place in line at the cinema, and brutally beating them with a wrench while yelling ‘Shut up crime!’

This is where I expected the comedic element to come from in this film, the irrational vigilante punishing drunks over the smallest altercation or incident. Instead, I initially saw a lot of the dark and very little of the comedy.

When the film begins we see Salah (played by actor Ziad Abaza), a student struggling to get through his course, while simultaneously trying to run his father’s kebab shop while his father is recovering in hospital. To make matters worse the shop seems to be placed right in the centre of one of the most popular streets for nights out; meaning his main customers are drunk British people often hurling abuse in his direction – whether it’s urinating through his letter box, throwing chips at him or making insinuations about his race.

It doesn’t help that the police seem indifferent about helping when he reported a brawl breaking out, given it took them three hours to respond. Salah is trapped behind his counter forced to serve slurring idiots, because in all food service business, customer service is key.

Things briefly look up as his father comes out of hospital and offers his son support, telling him not to take it personally; the older man has had many more years of experience dealing with said drunks.

Sadly, things only escalate from here, while Salah is in the back, Salah’s dad is sitting in the middle of the restaurant when a group come knocking on the door demanding food. Despite the door being locked they don’t seem to understand that they are not open.

The poor, already sick, man opens the door only to be pushed over and abandoned on the doorstep of his own shop.

A distressed Salah discovers his father, bleeding from the back of the head, out cold and not responding. Despite knowing what happened the police are unable to get the specific drunken idiots without a witness. Pushed over the edge Salah finally snaps with his next disrespectful customer and deep fries his face. With his first taste of blood-lust Salah ups his game by not only waiting for the next victim to come into his shop, but rather stalks his rude customers without allowing them to get away.

Not forgetting Salah’s inventive way to get rid of a large part of his murdered customers, in a very Sweeney Todd fashion, we see Salah serve the remains of his first victim as lamb meat to two customers with very poor character.

While this is the only moment where we see him decide to feed one customer with another, given how many more he kills it is likely he also fed some more innocent customers his highly praised ‘lamb’ meat, blurring the lines between vigilante and psychotic murderer.

So why did this film turn out to be so enjoyable to watch?

Yet to my own surprise, by the end of the film I found myself having enjoyed it immensely and actually rooting for the tragic protagonist, despite my initial discomfort. After, I thought about why that might be, and thinking over not only about the characters but what the film presented visually; making my conclusion to how critics felt compelled to give this film a five star rating somewhat disturbing.

British people have a culture based around drinking and this film depicts characters that represent the worst parts of that culture. Being that it brings out a person’s worst qualities, the loud, obnoxious and more often than not violent tendencies we all seem to possess after drinking too much alcohol. We have all been on a night out and had it ruined by some loud-mouthed drunk, whether it’s someone shouting abuse in the kebab shop when all you want to do is order, or someone that has started an argument over something completely irrelevant, they just really like the sound of their own voice at that moment.

By subtly including additional shots of the most irritating actions of inebriated club goers, just to make sure the point of how insufferable they are, what Pringle has done is provide us with a visual medium where we can vicariously live out our desire to shut these people up.

We can take some guilty pleasure in cheering for this sadistic vigilante, as Pringle uses the drunks in his film to provoke our anger, while Salah’s actions help us live out fantasies most people have surely had when they have come across a catastrophe of our drinking culture.

You may never eat another lamb doner again but hopefully this film will make people think twice about getting ridiculously drunk and ruining everyone else’s night.

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If you count brands like Klairs and Saturday Skin among your skincare favorites, you’ll want to pay close attention to all the excellent markdowns available on other top K-Beauty products during Soko Glam’s Holiday Skin Care Wonderland Sale. Now through November 29, you can take advantage of 30 percent off sitewide with the code SGWONDERLAND30 at checkout. Because amid early holiday shopping and prepping your Black Friday 2021 game plan, you deserve a little extra pampering too.

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Tiffany Dodson
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Tiffany Dodson is the Associate Beauty Commerce Editor at Bazaar.com where she covers all things beauty and shopping, including new product drops and can’t-miss sales.

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Standard AI deploys frictionless shopping system at Arizona Circle K store

Dive Brief:

  • Computer vision startup Standard AI has rolled out its frictionless shopping system to customers at the first of several Circle K convenience stores in Arizona, according to a Wednesday press release.
  • Standard retrofitted the store in Tempe, Arizona, with the computer vision-based equipment as part of a partnership announced last year.
  • The announcement comes as Standard steps up its efforts to demonstrate the utility of its technology to potential retail clients and make it faster to install.

Dive Insight:

The Circle K store now allowing shoppers to walk out with their purchases without needing to check out is smaller than traditional c-stores yet carries the same assortment of products, making it the most challenging shopping environment where Standard has so far installed its autonomous shopping technology, Standard CEO and co-founder Jordan Fisher said.

That higher density poses a test for the ceiling mounted cameras Standard uses to anonymously track customers and record items as people remove them from store shelves, making the deployment an important milestone for the company as it refines the technology, Fisher said.

The rollout follows several months of testing that took place while the store operated normally. In addition, the store allowed selected customers to try the system over the past few weeks as it prepared to make it available to all shoppers, according to Fisher. The store will continue to allow customers to pay at a conventional checkout station, he said.

Fisher added that Standard is focusing on reducing the amount of time it takes to install its technology as it looks to attract other retailers.

“The goal for the tech in general is to scale it as quickly as possible. The game for us is speed and scale and showing that we can do this on a much quicker cadence,” Fisher said. “It shouldn’t take a year to launch a store. It should take maybe a couple months, and then a couple of weeks, and then a couple of days.”

Standard’s competitors include startups like Grabango, Trigo and Zippin, which, like Standard, have drawn significant interest during the pandemic from investors hoping frictionless shopping technology will take off. Computer vision company AiFi recently retrofitted two Loop Neighborhood convenience stores in San Francisco with its frictionless checkout technology. 

Earlier this year, Standard brought in $150 million in a Series C funding round that valued it at $1 billion.

Standard is also competing with Amazon, which uses its Just Walk Out technology to its small format Go stores and some Fresh supermarkets. Amazon also recently announced that two Whole Foods stores set to open in 2022 would also feature the technology.

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