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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Horror Roots and Ultraviolence of AMC’s “Gangs of London” Series

Gangs of London may not read like it would appeal to horror fans, as it’s billed as a crime series that’s heavy on action. But behind this series is a creator deeply rooted in horror and using the genre to make its action hit hard with a gut-punching intensity. That creator also enlisted other prominent horror filmmakers to present a cohesive vision of startling extreme violence that teeters into full-blown horror and gore territory. With Season One now available on Blu-ray and DVD, there’s no better time than now to get acquainted with one of television’s most violent series.

The opening of the AMC series Gangs of London sets the tone with an intense interrogation. In it, Sean Wallace (Green Room’s Joe Cole) stands on the roof of a tall building, seeking answers from the man he has dangling precariously over the ledge. Wallace wants to know about his father, and when the man doesn’t oblige, Wallace takes a gas can, douses the man, and sets him ablaze. In other hands, this scene would play fairly straightforward, shooting this scene from afar to minimize the gruesome nature of being burned to death and emphasize Wallace’s stone-cold face of ruthless determination. But this series was created by Gareth Evans and creative partner Matt Flannery, who drive home the grisliness of this murder with intimate, visceral detail.

Gareth Evans is no stranger to wielding shocking violence to relay the heavy toll that comes with navigating criminal underbellies. The filmmaker first broke out internationally with a pair of bone-crunching action-thrillers in The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2. His ability to create propulsive action and showcase the exquisite fight scenes would’ve made both crime-centric actioners enjoyable enough. But his distinct use of carnage- to make those fight scenes grounded in excruciating realism- transcended action. In between The Raid films, Evans teamed up with Timo Tjahjanto to deliver the ultra-gory fan-favorite segment “Safe Haven” in V/H/S 2 and sharpened his talents for marrying shocking violence to emotional depth with the folk horror movie Apostle.

Gangs of London’s opening scene introduces the brutal tone of the series and teases the inciting event that created a power vacuum in the city. The head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated, catapulting his son, Sean Wallace, on a relentless quest for answers and justice with several international gangs vying to fill that void. It’s an epic crime saga packed with top-tier action brawls that pack a visceral punch.

Evans serves up his brand of insane action tinged with horror throughout, with nearly every single episode offering a memorable set-piece filled with blood-splattered fights. The series’ creator helmed three episodes and filled his roster with notable horror filmmakers for the inaugural season.

Corin Hardy, known for the dark fairy tale The Hallow and Conjuring spin-off The Nun, directed three episodes this season. Keeping with Evans’ theme of extreme violence, the Hardy-directed Episode Four brought an unforgettable sniper gauntlet set in a neon-soaked alleyway. Wallace and Albanian crime boss Luan (Orli Shuka) find themselves trying to evade an insanely bloody shootout full of carnage and exploding heads. Hardy shoots this sequence like a slickly styled nightmare.

Not to be outdone, director Xavier Gens also brings his flair for horror extremity to the fold. Gens broke out into the horror scene with the New French Extremity horror movie Frontier(s), a hyper-violence gorefest that saw thieves fighting for their lives when they crossed paths with a family of Neo-Nazis. Gens, who also directed The Divide and Cold Skin, infuses his Gangs of London episodes with blood-splattered intensity. The season’s penultimate episode, helmed by Gens, sees Luan captured by a machete-wielding henchman, leading to a tense battle against four men. A machete massacre ensues, including a startling eye-gouging. This sequence offered a bloodbath that appalled viewers to the point of sending in complaints to UK communications regulator Ofcom.

This series uses horror to bolster the impact of its ultra-violence. It does so by employing filmmakers well-versed in genre film. It gives Gangs of London a vicious edge that helped solidify the series as a massive hit, with season two on the way. It’s considered one of the most violent shows, with a body count above a hundred and no shortage of decapitations, torture, and of course, eye-gouging. Grounding it all is an engaging story full of surprising character journeys and reveals, tethered to a high-stakes battle for criminal supremacy.

Get caught up on all the explosive action and gory mayhem with Gangs of London Season One now on Blu-ray and DVD.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/sponsored/3674390/horror-roots-ultraviolence-amcs-gangs-london-series/

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