K-Shop Review


Dan Pringle’s K-Shop is the newest addition in a long line of darkly comedic British horrors. In this grimy and compelling tale, the son of a kebab shop owner turns to a life of Sweeney Todd-inspired vigilantism to combat the rising tide of amoral binge-drinkers in the seaside town of Bournemouth.

Salah (Ziad Abaza), who has been away for university, returns home to write his dissertation and help his unwell father, Zaki (Nayef Rashed) run the family business. During an encounter with drunken thugs, Zaki is accidentally killed, leaving Salah to take up the reins at ‘Best Kebabz’ and leave his academic career behind. Salah quickly becomes frustrated and disgusted with the behaviour of the night time revellers. When one customer crosses the line, Salah ends up having to dispose of a body. After a sudden burst of inspiration, the customer becomes the star ingredient in Best Kebabz’s doner meat.

K-Shop’s greatest strength is in its complex and empathetic main character. You might think it could be difficult to relate to a serial killer serving up his victims, but Ziad Abaza’s portrayal makes Salah’s spiral into insanity both terrifying and totally understandable. He’s mourning not just the loss of his father, but the loss of a future he’ll never be able to realise. It’s made clear early on that Zaki has made great sacrifices to give his son opportunities that he hadn’t had for himself, including giving up on opening his own restaurant. Those dreams sadly die with him.

The film manages to be thoughtful without being preachy. The UK’s binge drinking culture is seen eroding the pillars of society one by one: Family, in the killing of Zaki; education, in the plethora of student victims and in Salah’s unfinished dissertation; and finally religion, when a church is converted into a sleazy club by a lecherous reality TV star. The fictional Big Brother winner plays a significant role in K-Shop and the subplot involving his band of drug dealers breathes new life into Salah’s bloody revenge. Thankfully, Salah doesn’t spend a great deal of time lecturing his victims or warning would-be kebab meat to clean up their act, there’s too much righteous butchery to be getting on with.

K-Shop truly is just great fun. It manages to strike a perfect balance between horrifying and delightfully campy. The black humour keeps the tone light enough that it prevents the film from becoming too depressing and brutal. There’s plenty of blood and guts for horror fans but it could easily win over mainstream audiences. Dan Pringle may have just made a future cult classic in this twisted tale.