Chris Baugh writes and directs his feature debut Bad Day for the Cut, a revenge thriller set in Northern Ireland. The plot follows middle-aged farmer Donal (Nigel O’Neill) who lives a quiet, unadventurous life with his mother Florence (Stella McCusker), spending his days working and his evenings supping real ale down the pub. One night, their home is broken into and his mother is brutally murdered. Donal spots one of the assailants getting away whom he refers to as ‘a fancy looking sorta boy’ and after a couple of thugs return a few days later to kill him too, he is forced to take matters into her own hands to avenge her death.
A man stepping out of his comfort zone to go vigilante is not an unusual or original concept, but the juxtaposition between Donal’s country bumpkin sensibilities and gangland crime is enjoyable to watch play out. There are terrific comedic moments thanks to the witty script and the unorthodox array of weaponry used against Donal’s hapless victims, including an iron and a pot of baked beans. Around the halfway mark, some issues crop up when unnecessary subplots are wedged in, convoluting and shifting focus from what might have worked better as a simpler revenge narrative.
Nigel O’Neill is great in the leading role, subtly expressing Donal’s anger and frustration which simmers under the surface before he unleashes his unique brand of vengeance. Most of his foes pale in comparison, but Susan Lynch gives an alarmingly good performance as the villainous and downright vicious Frankie Pierce. Baugh handles the low-budget violence deftly, combining with crackers comedy to carve out a bloody and barmy sub-genre that could be described as NI-noir. Bad Day for the Cut makes for a thoroughly enjoyable day in the cinema, and is an assured and accomplished directorial debut.