Bull review – a terrifying thriller

At his bruising best – and Bull is his finest cinema work since his debut, London to Brighton – writer-director Paul Andrew Williams is a furiously visceral force behind the camera. His knuckleduster direction goes beyond mere muscularity and takes on the daunting persuasive power of a mob enforcer; his storytelling is both thrilling and utterly terrifying.

Bull, which earns every last moment of its 18 certificate, is no ordinary revenge movie. A redemption story populated by wholly irredeemable characters, it’s the kind of savage storytelling that nails you to your seat and leaves you – and most of the supporting cast – thoroughly roughed up. It won’t be for everyone – the squeamish should give it a wide berth and a left-field final act twist might not connect with all viewers – but fans of mean, low-budget British crime pictures in the vein of Kill List will find much to admire.

The film’s propulsive power is, in part, due to the skin-flaying fury that drives the non-linear screenplay – there’s a venomous, stripped-back economy to the writing that ensures that it is impossible to look away even if you want to (and trust me, you’ll want to). But perhaps even more crucial is Neil Maskell’s searing central performance as Bull, a man who returns after 10 years to wreak havoc on those who betrayed him. Maskell is phenomenal, managing to be both completely repulsive but at the same time horribly magnetic. Equally chilling is David Hayman as Norm, Bull’s former employer and ex-father-in-law, a man with a razor-blade smile and not a hint of kindness in his soul.