Glasgow Film Festival: Jericho Ridge (2024)

Director: Will Gilbey

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Starring: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Trim Ademi, Philipp Christopher, Simon Kunz, Solly McLeod, Zack Morris, Chris Reilly, Michael Socha, Zachary Hart

Amidst a career in editing and screenwriting, Will Gilbey also has history with directing short-films and anthology segments. Jericho Ridge marks a departure for Gilbey, as it is the first feature-length work that he has directed. What unfolds is a compelling siege thriller born out of the simmering tensions and politics of the titular small-town.

As she readies herself to return to work, demoted deputy Tabby (Nikki Amuka-Bird) is intent on persevering despite the broken ankle which left her relying on a crutch and dealing with the pain by popping pills. She intends to help her colleagues after the discovery of a murdered meth-dealer's body, and a robbery at the sheriff's office resulting in firearms being stolen. As her colleagues go out on patrol, Tabby is left in the remote office alone with only her rebellious teenage son, Monty (Zack Morris), and imprisoned drunk Earl (Michael Socha) to keep her company. It soon becomes clear that they have been set up a murderous drug cartel as the office comes under siege, leaving the deputy to battle for survival.

With an impending election for sheriff including a candidate who promises to defend second amendment rights, and the large amount of town residents who are armed (including drug cartel members and doomsday preppers), firearms play a key part in this story. As Tabby's only gun remains locked away at home, she must rely on her wits to protect herself and her son against such an arsenal. The only available firearm she has does not have suitable bullets within the office, which leads to a white-knuckled sequence reliant on Tabby's ability to bluff, along with a satisfying use of Chekov's gun.

Central to this work is the troubled relationship between Tabby and Monty, as the son's drug-dealing past leaves town residents largely distrusting him and subsequently judging his mother. Early scenes capture the noticeable rift between the pair, while making it clear they are keeping painful secrets from each other. The unfolding scenario offers them the chance to open up about what's troubling them, with the unburdening of secrets allowing mother and son to gain newfound respect and understand for each other, something the performers effectively convey.

While the promise of backup arriving lessens as the body count rises, writer/director Gilbey utilizes the confined settings in pulse-pounding ways reminiscent of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13. The increasingly disheveled police station leaves Tabby with more entry points to cover, as this thrilling work sees the mother holding her own against an antagonistic force of nature chillingly portrayed by Philipp Christopher. If there were any issues, it would be down to a glaring use of CG and some jarring accents, yet these are minor quibbles within an impressive work. Jericho Ridge is a stunning siege thriller that uses each minute of its taut runtime to great effect.

Jericho Ridge previously played at Glasgow Film Festival. It will be released in UK Cinemas on 25th April, and on Digital Download from 29th April.