This British psychological thriller tells the story of a disaffected soldier Richard (Paddy Considine) who returns to his Midland home town back to his mentally-challenged younger brother Anthony (Toby Kebbell). But the real reason for his return to Derbyshire is to get revenge on the drug dealers who brutalized and tortured his younger brother when he was absent. Written and directed by Shane Meadows, Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) takes us on a brutally raw revenge endeavour where an ex-military servicemen takes the law into his own hands and turns the quite streets of Derbyshire into guerilla hunting warfare. An utterly disturbing and yet gripping drama, Dead Man’s Shoes shows that even the most deranged men out for revenge are also faced with moral ambiguity between crime or punishment.
The film begins as a mysterious and portentous journey of two brothers taking a stroll through the Midlands countryside under a grey lowering sky. As the pair arrives in a small farm just outside the country town in the valley of Matlock Derbyshire, Richard heads into town and we begin to see signs of a crazed killer. He stirs up trouble by stalking the thugs, breaking into their homes and terrorizing them everywhere they go. The psychological anguish ends when the thugs get picked off one by one with DIY tools, axes, plastic bags and knives. It seems that Richard has been planning his revenge spree for quite some time and will stop at nothing to get his vengeance. As the thugs exile themselves and try to escape the wrath of Richard, a series of black and white grainy flashbacks begin that reveal what lead up to the abuse of Anthony and the dramatic end that made Richard seek revenge on the thugs. However it seems that while burying those who tormented his brother, he might be his digging his own grave.
Dead Man’s Shoes is certainly a Midlands tale of revenge, violence and haunted images of the past, but the film steers away from revenge to murder. The British psychological thriller and drama veers to a bloody and brutally raw reality of a siblings looking after one another. However the moral question always seems to come to play when you begin to feel sorry for the thugs as they slowly become victims of Richard. With an extraordinary performance from both Paddy Considine and Toby Kebbell and the juxtaposition between the beautiful countryside of Midland’s with a gritty and raw plot. Dead Man’s Shoes proves to be both a provoking and powerful British low key film.