Directed by Dominic Brunt
Best friends Dawn and Bex are looking to expand their little cafe from a market stall into a successful shop in the town centre. However, after unsuccessful meetings with the bank, they’re unable to secure a loan to make their business dreams come true. Meanwhile, Dawn meets Jeremy on the market and after a few flirtacious remarks, they meet for a drink at a local bar. Sharing her woes about a lack of funding, Jeremy offers to cough up £10,000 to loan to Dawn and Bex for their venture. Excited, the two women plan for their shop but when Jeremy explains the terms of the loan, they have second thoughts. Wanting £40,000 back for a £10,000 loan, Dawn and Bex reject Jeremy’s offer but Jeremy insists that the women owe him interest for securing the £10,000 despite the duo not taking the money. With a debt they never asked for or legally due, the women refuse Jeremy’s demands when he comes knocking but unfortunately Jeremy doesn’t take the word “no” for an answer. Battering the women with the help of his heavy, Jeremy won’t stop til he gets paid. With him watching their every move and that of their loved ones, Dawn and Bex must do everything it takes to pay Jeremy back or face deadly consequences.
Tense dramatic thriller BAIT from director Dominic Brunt (Emmerdale’s Paddy Kirk) is a step up from his previous movie, zombie drama Before Dawn and chooses to focus on the real horror of loan sharks. With Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit as leading characters Dawn and Bex, we have two protagonists the viewer can really root for and sympathise with as they try to better themselves and their family. Dawn is a single mum of an autistic teenager, a quiet, caring women who thinks a lot of her family and regularly spends time with her mum (Rula Lenska). Bex is her outspoken and sassy best friend, attributes which unfortunately draw the attention of the older male stall owners on the market who are keen to get photos of her bending over. When Jeremy first meets the duo, he seems quite polite and charming and dressed smartly in his suit. After agreeing to meet him one night, Dawn even has a great time out with Jeremy at the bar. Neither could predict what a cruel, malicious, wicked slimeball he actually is and the lengths that he’ll go to to get his money.
BAIT is hard to watch in places. The violence, both physical and emotional, is disturbing to watch and the brutal displays on screen will make you sick to your stomach. What makes this worse is that out there, in the world we live in, things like this are happening. Whilst this tale might be make believe for ‘entertainment’ purposes, the beatings, humiliation, blackmail and violence we see in the movie are real life for some people who unfortunately find themselves involved with loan sharks through desperation, necessity or otherwise. The two women aren’t the only victims in this as we see others are being threatened, attacked and abused for late payments and it’s truly horrifying to watch. As a viewer, I really felt for the characters and wished they could find a way of escaping his clutches, whilst the horror fiend in me wished the girls would turn the table on him and give him a taste of his own medicine. I wasn’t disappointed as we do get a dose of that, although those particular scenes come across more theatrical than the rest of the movie which feels as though we’re on the outside of someone’s life looking in.
You’ve got to hand it to Jonathan Slinger who stars as Jeremy in BAIT. He has a kind and gentle demeanor at the beginning but boy oh boy can he be a nasty bastard. After revealing his true colours, my skin crawled each time Jeremy appeared on screen. Slinger does a brilliant job in becoming a character that you can passionately hate to the point of wishing he’d meet a grisly death. Joanne Mitchell and Victoria Smurfit are brilliant too in the role of two ordinary women just trying to make their lives better and unintentionally becoming caught in Jeremy’s web. Amidst all the turmoil, there’s even a bit of humour in the movie too with Smurfit’s Bex providing much of the laughter, especially with her rant at a fellow stallholder.
BAIT is a tense slice of drama that will shock you to the core.