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DOWN TERRACE

GO DOWN TERRACE U.K. TV vet Ben Wheatley's zingy, caustic first feature about the pathetic dad-son kingpins of a two-bit syndicate in Brighton plays as a kitchen-sink black comedy — one clogged up with a nasty hair ball of filial rage, parental scorn, regression and humiliation. The more gruesome violence stems not from criminal behavior but from the intractable muck of the nuclear family. The film's autobiographical elements nicely heighten the domestic queasiness: Robin Hill (who also co-scripted with Wheatley and edited) and his real-life father, Robert, star as Karl and Bill, recently sprung from jail and back home with constantly aggrieved mum/wife Maggie (Julia Deakin); almost all the action takes place in the elder Hill's own two-story residence, where the younger Hill grew up. Karl, 34 years old but prone to the tantrums and sartorial style of a toddler, starts the corpse pileup by furiously responding to a dim-witted club runner who unknowingly casts doubts on his paternity claims to an ex-girlfriend's baby bump. Fatherhood, it seems, is always fragile: "That's what dads do — they die," Bill scoffs earlier to the same lunk, as the greasy-haired oaf fondly remembers his gangland pop, summing up Down Terrace's bitter, witty takedown of puffed-up but impotent patriarchs. Hailed as "The Sopranos meets Mike Leigh," Wheatley's movie might be more fruitfully compared to last year's standout British satire In the Loop: In both films, verbal aggression makes for the biggest laughs and the surest signs of moral decay. (Melissa Anderson) (Sunset 5)