Darrell (Wade Radford) is a seasoned lag, used to the prison life to the point that he's happy to address the camera and deliver tips on how to cope with being banged up: "get a masturbation buddy" he suggests, insisting that all inmates "think about women ... while fucking men".

He is, incidentally, openly homosexual. When we first meet him proper, he's in his cell squeezing out a shit into a basin, and recovering the drug-stuffed condom that's contained within it. He later explains that his boyfriend sneaked the drugs to him - along with a blowjob - during his last visit. In a novel cameo, director Jason Impey features as the boyfriend, in a photograph stuck to Darrell's cell wall.

Darrell just has time to stash his newly acquired cocaine under his mattress when an alarm sounds, suggesting that trouble is stirring on the prison's top wing - you know, where all the nutters and nonces are kept.

This disruption calls for other prisoners to be relocated into different cells while the screws concentrate on quelling the drama on the top floor. First to be shoved into Darrell's cell is Seth (Tama Phethean).

Seth is a quiet, intense type. Despite this, he appears to enjoy a decent rapport with Darrell, despite the latter's unwanted flirtiness. A few minutes later, the oversized Lanks (Gavin Jackson) reluctantly joins them. He's a sulky sort, and in particular he has no time for Seth.

Darrell seems to get on with everyone, on account of his penchant for making light of all situations and constant flirting. It becomes apparent that he has enjoyed sexual relations previously with the otherwise heterosexual Lanks.

But this is going to be a long night for the three lads. It's a small room they're being confined to. Seth and Lanks can't stand each other - that's made clear from the offset. Darrell wants a piece of Seth: he's quite persistent in his pursuit, but Seth is adamant it's not going to happen. And with Darrell's questionable sense of humour - wanking off and rubbing his fresh spunk in Lanks' face; waving his shit-stained fingers in front of Seth's nose - this situation seems like one that's just waiting to explode.

Just as tensions start to boil over, a fourth body is chucked into their cell. New inmate Nico (James Whitehurst) is young, scared and perfect bait for Darrell to cosy up beside and prey upon.

Nico is the unwitting catalyst for the violence that will soon erupt...

BOYS BEHIND BARS was directed, co-written, photographed and edited by SGM's old pal Impey. We've reviewed a few of the increasingly prolific UK indie filmmaker's efforts over the last few years (NAKED NAZI, HOMEMADE, DEMON SCROLL etc), and followed with interest as he's churned out some of the most ambitious no-budget home-grown horror fare of the last decade.

But BOYS is a marked change of pace. Shot in long takes and told more or less in real time, the film stages all of its talky drama in a single setting and relies on abrasive humour as much as handheld camerawork to achieve a sense of raw intimacy.

The performances are frequently naturalistic, suggesting a fair amount of both rehearsal and improvisation. At first, it all feels a tad amateurish but the actors quickly warm to their situation and become their characters surprisingly quickly. Jackson's the weak link, as he's not as convincing as the hard nut he's clearly meant to be.

Overall the film works very well, and ably demonstrates Impey's growth as a storyteller. With minimal budget, locations or cast, he's fashioned a tense 83-minute film out of something that could quite easily have ended up being stagy and boring.

In fact, the least successful part of the film is its opening titles sequence. Radford's run-through of rules on how to survive prison life are light and almost exuberantly delivered. Which is all well and good, but the film that follows deserves a much more restrained, less misleading intro.

In some ways BOYS BEHIND BARS reminded me of Uwe Boll's STOIC. But only in so far as both pit four male characters in a cell, allow for improvisation and contain the action therein.

The film was provided for review on a DVD-R which boasted its fair share of goodies.

First off, the film itself looked good in an uncut 16x9 presentation. English 2.0 audio was similarly clean and consistent during playback.

I was pleasantly surprised by the option to view the film in black and white. I did this second time around, and I maybe preferred it this way (it's not a film that relies on a vivid patina of colours anyway - its aesthetic is intentionally drab).

A 2-minute trailer is basically a condensed version of the opening titles. A 1-minute teaser trailer does a better job of representing the film.

Trailers for SEX LIES AND DEPRAVITY and MORE SEX LIES AND DEPRAVITY followed, along with a short film (under 3 minutes) entitled TUB BOY. The latter is directed by Impey and stars Radford, delivering a bathtub-set monologue that ends bloodily.

For more information on BOYS BEHIND BARS and other films by Jason Impey, please visit or visit his blog at

Review by Stuart Willis

Directed by Jason Impey