FILM REVIEW: VS. Starring Connor Swindells, Shotty Horroh, And Paigey Cakey

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to watch a screener of the new British film VS., so naturally, we watched the trailer to see if it was something we would be interested in and it was that trailer that made us say yes to watching the screener. The film was released on 19 October 2018 and shows off the world of UK battle-rap.

The film has been directed by Ed Lily, who also co-wrote the screenplay and makes his directional full-film debut with VS., having directed shorts the past few years including The Hive and Greasy Spoon. The other co-writer of the screenplay is Daniel Hayes, whose only other credit is for being a co-writer of the 2005 short Wet Dreams Dry Days. The film has been produced by BBC Films, Lorton Entertainment, and Silvertown Films, whilst Lorton Entertainment and Altitude Films act as distributors.

Having watched the film, we managed to premiere an exclusive clip from the film, to entice you into watching it even more. This film really tells a strong story about battle-rap with some hard-hitting reality backdrops that will keep you interested from the very start to the very end. It also stars emerging music talent from two of the biggest UK battle-rappers, Shotty Horroh and Paigey Cakey.

Our main character is Adam, played by Connor Swindells (who makes his breakout lead in this film, having starred in KeepersJamestown, and Harlots; he’ll next appear in the TV series Sex Education), who isn’t enjoying life going from one foster family to another. He returns to his hometown, staying in an attic room of a retired foster carer, Fiona – played by Ruth Sheen (Another YearRun Fatboy RunBramwell). This all leads up to his final battle-rap, against Slaughter.

We watch him play a game in an arcade which leads to him asking for some change at the booth, where he is served by Makayla, played by Fola Evans-Akingbola (SirenDeath In ParadiseAn American Exorism). They strike up a friendship after she finishes work, inviting him to a battle-rap event – this is where Adam gets his first taste of battle-rap. After the event, in the car-park, there’s a confrontation between Makayla and her ex-boyfriend, Slaughter – played by Shotty Horroh – which leads into Adam spitting some bars at Slaughter, who then decks him.

His raw talent is seen by Makayla who lines up some battles for him and they work together to prepare him for his battles, from his clothes to his words to his name – where they come up with Adversary. He battle-raps with some of the key rappers in the event, including Blaze – played by Jovian Wade (The First Purge, YoungersBig SchoolEastenders) and Miss Quotes – played by Paigey Cakey.

It’s not all about battle-rap, though, there are sidelong storylines throughout, following Adam’s tough time in the foster care system with scenes of him meeting with his mother. Alongside that, we see scenes that touch upon sexuality and gender. It’s an in-depth film whilst keeping it typically British – so expect awkward silences, small talk, and plot-building.

The film was released to UK and Irish cinemas on 19 October 2018. If you haven’t seen it yet, we can’t recommend it enough. The film also stars Nicholas Pinnock (MarcellaFortitudeGrange Hill), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Jericho), Emily Taaffe, Kieron Bimpson, Ellie James, Kola Bokinni, and Jurell Carter.

If you’ve seen the film, why not tell us your thoughts on Twitter @CelebMix.

Written by Jonathan Currinn

26-year-old writer, blogger, author, and journalist. Graduated from Staffordshire University in 2015. I write under the name Critic Jonni, on my blog. I also write for Channillo, Outlet Magazine, SPECTRUMM, Fuzzable, Modern Magazine, and Electric Mode. In the past, I have written for Fox & Squirrel Photography and the Daily Star. Follow me on Twitter @CriticJonni