The tribulations of small-time crooks living on a tough housing estate ... and a tale of a zombie infection that plagues the area.

Dillon (Kemal Yildirim) drives to nearby woodlands with his lover Stacey (Lianne Robertson). On the way they talk about whether they're making the right choice - it soon becomes apparent that they're engaged in an illicit affair.

They're carrying a body in the boot of their car, hoping to dump it in the woods. The cadaver is Michael (Max Fellows), Stacey's husband - and a very abusive one at that, as an early flashback reveals. The problem is, when they come to dispose of his corpse, it springs back into life and chases them fleeing into the surrounding forestry.

Unbeknownst to them, a Private Investigator/hitman is also on their trail. Tough American Quaid (Rami Hilmi) had been hired by Michael to spy on his wife and kill anyone she was fucking with. Ironically, Michael's Nazi mate Leon (Jason Impey) has also paid Quaid to locate and gun down Dillon, for reasons of his own.

Tracking Dillon's abandoned car to the opening of the woods, Quaid quickly draws in close upon his unsuspecting prey. But a bigger issue awaits all three of them, as Michael's ravenous corpse is determine to spread its havoc ...

By the time Leon decides to don his hoodie and take to the woods in search of Dillon for himself, Quaid has already familiarised himself with a couple more zombies. It seems that whatever infection Michael has, it's spreading - and quickly.

Shot on digital and looking nicely sharp in a smooth, colourful widescreen presentation, THE TURNING is often pleasing on the eye. Framing and compositions are eagerly considered, while good use of natural lighting lends the film an agreeable raw edge that belies its meagre budget.

Forays into monochrome for flashback sequences lend the film an added ounce of style, while writer-director Jason Impey's script is the strongest he's worked with yet. Naturalistic performances and a suspected element of ad-libbing aid the savvy script further, affording the dialogue a rough quality - at times it's like watching a horror film directed by Mike Leigh, such are the social observations.

Although slow to build towards the full-on horror - playing more as a crime-drama to begin with - THE TURNING tosses in early ominous pointers such as Michael's bloody screaming and Ralph Cardell's foreboding score, all aimed at cluing the viewer in as to the darker content to come.

When it does come, the characters have been sufficiently explored so as to help give the action more impact.

In true no-budget style, the film was written and directed by Impey, and produced by his long-time pal Yildirim. The pair is responsible for the film's solid cinematography, while Impey also gets a credit for editing.

The film is proficient in all above aspects, clearly benefiting from the experience Impey and co have garnered on previous SGM faves such as CUT AND PASTE, NAKED NAZI and HOME MADE 2.

Where it suffers is in its bloated running time, which at 91 minutes feels about 15 minutes too long. There's no flab as such, but this is essentially a chase through woodlands with several lumbering zombie set-pieces (well-staged, and often reminiscent of THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE in their rural daytime attack scenes) and black-and-white flashbacks to flesh out the barebones plot.

Although the zombie action comes to the fore in the film's second half, the narrative for the most part very much centres on the fall-out caused by Dillon and Stacey's affair, and the former's unfortunate crossing with the frankly barmy Leon.

A twist origin of the zombie virus does emerge, being mildly revelatory and imaginative. Full credit though to Impey for, what with the social issues of gun crime and domestic violence being addressed, trying to expand on the basics of undead storytelling.

THE TURNING is a good example of what can be done with limited means (the filming budget was a reported 500.00), and proof positive that style and creativity don't cost anything.

Although not as much guilty fun as the films of Shane Mather (FANTACIDE; TERROR NATION) or as high-energy as Darren Ward's efforts (A DAY OF VIOLENCE), Jason Impey's ascension is ongoing and I'm convinced that, given the right budget and script, he could one day produce something really great.

As it stands, THE TURNING is a well-made and engaging hybrid of drama, thriller, zombie horror and even Nazi experimentation. And it has something that neither Mather nor Ward had in their films: Eileen Daly! But to reveal any more about her role would be spoiling the surprise ...

For more information, check out the official site here.

Review by Stuart Willis

Directed by Jason Impey