Directed by: Robbie Walsh
Starring: Robbie Walsh and Paul Ward
Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
Robbie Walsh is no stranger to the crime genre and in this, his 2009 film The Debt Collector, his first film as producer, he explores the always alluring theme of revenge.
The film opens with a simple montage of our protagonist, who curiously remains unnamed throughout, getting ready for work. He gets up, he gets dressed, he visits his girlfriend at work in the local shop: a seemingly regular guy. This morning though, he is present when a shifty debt collector, Paul Ward’s cruel gangster Thomas, arrives and threatens his girlfriend before having his henchman knock our protagonist out. A little shaken, but apparently determined to push past this, he goes about his day, door to door as an electrical engineer, arriving last at the house of a pretty girl whose electricity has been off for a little while. He fixes it and leaves, but this can’t be all it seems – and certainly it isn’t, as ahead of his dinner date with his girlfriend, our protagonist reveals his real occupation and delivers Thomas a brutal revenge.
The Debt Collector is a little less polished than some of Walsh’s later films, though they all have a rough production quality somehow befitting of their gritty storylines. At times though, the audio balancing here is quite poor; I missed one or two lines in this film because of it. Occasionally the camerawork suffers from poor angle choices too with both sunlight and natural darkness obscuring our view of characters. And whilst these rough edges may marry well with the plot and characters in Walsh’s films, I can’t help but think that a little more polish would sharpen the film and deliver greater impact on viewers.
The sheer defiance and almost crazed determination of the protagonist is enough to keep viewers going in this film though; Robbie Walsh has certainly crafted a dangerous character through his performance and audiences will leave the film feeling far less comfortable than when they started it. We like our hitman; after all, revenge against villains is often gruesome, but his almost psychopathic treatment of the debt collector and his girlfriend, neither of whom are offered a way out or a path to redemption, is unnerving – a pretty clever move that will leave audiences thinking about it long after the film is over.