Spoiler-Free Review: “Restless” (Tribeca)

June 10, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Writer/director Jed Hart’s debut feature Restless (U.K., 2024) is a welcome, solid entry in the neighbors-from-Hell genre-film category, this one being a thriller with darkly comic elements. Although its main antagonist belongs to the uniquely British group known as chavs, the tension and stress brought on by that character’s constant partying and threatening demeanor will ring true for international viewers.

Middle-aged empty nester Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal) is an overworked caregiver who lives a rather quite, simple life — until new neighbor Deano (Aston McAuley) moves in next door, throwing raging parties and blasting music all night. His lack of empathy toward Nicky and their other neighbors and his bullying behavior make it obvious that he will do nothing to change and make life more comfortable for Nicky, so she must find a solution to her miserable situation herself.

Restless is driven by a superb performance from Marshal, who captures the frustrations of her character and the lengths that they drive her to splendidly. The film’s cold open gives viewers an idea of what Nicky might be capable of, but Hart plays off of our expectations wonderfully with some wholly unexpected twists on that and other situations. McAuley is terrific in his role, as well, encapsulating well the selfish, boorish type of neighbor that many viewers will have had unfortunate experience with. Excellent sound design by Ines Adriana and superb use of classical music for the score — contrasted with the party music from Deano’s home — add to the film admirably.

Hart ratchets up the suspense masterfully, as from Nicky’s first polite visit to Deano, we are hoping that she will think better of what she is about to do. As the music and aggression from next door escalate — affecting her sleep, dreams, and waking life — so do her actions, making for a fascinating and sometimes funny cinematic ride.

Restless screens as part of Tribeca, which runs June 5–16, 2024. For more information, visit https://tribecafilm.com/festival/film.

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