Review: Roller Squad

Written and directed by Berty Cadilhac, a group of roller skater friends join their forces to catch a serial killer who is too fast for the police. Starring: Alice Sanders, Benjamin McMahon, Amy Newton and David Wayman.

There’s a given amount of silliness with any story that has a synopsis involving roller skaters, murderers and inexplicably inept cops but even with that benefit of the doubt, it’s not really enough to pull it off. A key issue is the clashing of themes, it’s splitting a rogue murderer who’s killed several of their friends with a comedy of squabbling housemates, and those tones don’t blend. It’s especially evident in certain transitions in the timeline of the story that go from something very serious to the complete opposite with no grace or gradual movements.

The comedy itself doesn’t work well, it’s trying much too hard and using disappointingly familiar cliches, particularly with its male and female dynamics. It becomes further problematic as it progresses and reveals that these typical twenty somethings are actually selfish, a little stupid and utterly petty; at one point being so busy arguing with one another, they forget their friend is on the tail of the killer and in genuine danger. Surprisingly, the supporting characters of the other skaters are more interesting but unfortunately there’s not much detail given to them.

The strongest direction work here is in the chase sequences, it doesn’t cut from one angle to another too fast as many fall prey to and the choice of shots is varied and adds a genuine tension and faster pace. It’s a shame that outside of those moments, it feels very average and hits a lot of stereotypical tropes which don’t have much to add, and in fact take away from the tension those faster scenes try to build. There are a couple of exceptions, such as two characters using their skates to try and trip the other one up which goes on too long and feels uncomfortably awkward. Down the line it starts to feel slightly reminiscent of David Koepp’s Premium Rush and it would have done well to really grab hold of that because it’s exactly the tone that would have worked here, a blend of danger and sport.

With a film like this there isn’t too much to be said of the acting, they all do their jobs and there are moments where, like the script, it’s somewhat forced or awkward but that’s to be expected. That said, the lead group do have a convincing dynamic, it’s not necessarily new but it does work. It’s also always a bonus to capture that iconic fox in central London shot; anyone who’s familiar with the city can play a fun game of spot the location throughout.

Roller Squad spotted the opportunity to use a briefly quiet central London to their advantage and get creative, it was a great idea but the execution is flawed. There are highlights where the direction work is really solid but otherwise there’s not a lot to speak of. Boiling it down, it feels like it simply needed to pick a lane, either go all in on a thriller or a comedy. The mixture of the two simply doesn’t work, moving from a discussion of dead friends to a scene of happy skaters topped by pop music is a baffling transition. There is something in the idea though, it’s the kind of story you might find in an 80s style slasher flick.

Verdict: ✯½ | 3/10

Available now on Apple TV, Amazon & Google Play

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