Dead Man's Shoes

Critics Consensus

Though enhanced by cramped, gritty camerawork, this unsettling look at violence and revenge lacks the provocative edge needed to give it a substantial kick.



Total Count: 44


Audience Score

User Ratings: 60,726
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Movie Info

Richard has always protected his simple-minded little brother Anthony. When Richard leaves the rural village where they have grown up to join the army, Anthony is taken in by Sonny, a controlling and vicious local drug dealer and his gang of lads. Anthony becomes the gang's pet and plaything. Seven years later, Richard returns to settle the score. One by one, he hunts down each member of the gang and executes them in increasingly elaborate ways as flashbacks reveal the extent to which his brother suffered at their hands. "Dead Man's Shoes" is a genre-defying film blending horror, supernatural elements, comedy, and social realism. Set in a Midlands village, it explores the underbelly of contemporary rural Britain in communities where crime is unchecked and drugs, intimidation, and power games are blandly accepted as the fabric of daily life.


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Critic Reviews for Dead Man's Shoes

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (19)

Audience Reviews for Dead Man's Shoes

  • Mar 31, 2018
    Five years after their first collaboration on 1999's A Room for Romeo Brass, Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows penned a script together about some of the memories and experiences they remembered from their working-class backgrounds. Although they were obviously embellished, the result led to Dead Man's Shoes - a visceral and uncompromising tale of vengeance that became an instant cult hit and still stands as some of the best work they've ever produced. Plot: Disaffected soldier Richard (Paddy Considine) returns home from military service to his home town in the Midlands with revenge on his mind. While he was away, local thugs and bullies physically and psychologically tortured his mentally challenged brother. Anthony (Toby Kebbell) and Richard intends to make them pay. At first, he toys with the gang and and sets out to just just frighten them but it's not long before he steps up his military guerilla tactics to pick each of them off, one by one. Going by the title and the film poster, I remember my first impression of Dead Man's Shoes being one of a cheap budget slasher. As a result, I avoided it for a few years until I could no longer ignore the positive word-of-mouth that I had been hearing or the rising reputation of its director, Shane Meadows. To be fair, it's a classic case of never judging a book by its cover as it turned out to, not only, be different from my expectations but it surpassed them. Meadows' dark, revenge thriller benefits from his fly-on-the-wall and authentic style of storytelling that comfortably combines the kitchen-sink drama's of Ken Loach with the snare and disturbing elements of horror that Ben Wheatley has become known for. For many, Shane Meadows is a filmmaker that has yet to be uncovered but his most well known film This Is England (and it's resulting TV mini-series') have rightly gained a lot of critical appreciation but it's probably fair to say that he hasn't quite achieved any international recognition. Either way, Meadows always strikes me as a filmmaker that is most comfortable on his own patch and regardless of recognition, I wouldn't change that. His films always have such a genuine ability to capture working-class lifestyles - much like the aforementioned Loach or Mike Leigh. In fact, it's this approach - when combined with a depraved and violent narrative arc - that makes Dead Man's Shoes all the more effective and chilling. The setting, the mood and the characters all feel authentic and Meadows draws some excellent performances from the entire cast, regardless of how small their role. That said, there are three particular performances that really stand out; former British boxer Gary Stretch is hugely effective as the gang's shady leader while Toby Kebbell is remarkably good at capturing the young innocent with learning disabilities that's the catalyst for the mayhem that ensues. All in all, however, the film belongs to Paddy Considine with his dynamic intensity echoing a Taxi Driver era DeNiro. One minute he's tender and loving, the next he's a vengeful and explosive maniac and the role provides Considine the opportunity to express his range to full effect. Although the initial premise may seem a little far-fetched, the delivery of it is certainly not. This is raw and unflinching filmmaking that has a palpable feeling of dread and danger throughout its entirety. It's also not a simple as the vigilante premise would suggest. Meadows toys with our perspective of sympathy by allowing us to get close to the three-dimensional characters and never makes any black-and-white judgements. It's this approach that brings a genuine sense unpredictability in how the film plays out. A dark, compelling and thoroughly satisfying thriller that benefits from measured pacing, a solid cast and a searing central performance from the hugely talented Considine. Shane Meadows is one the boldest English directors working at present and this is arguably his best film to date. What may seem like a formulaic revenge story results in a complex psychological parable that packs a genuine punch. Mark Walker
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2016
    Director Shane Meadows has not disappointed me yet, and the classic revenge tale of Dead Man's Shoes is no exception. Could have done with a bit better sound mixing though.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 11, 2012
    The ultimate story of revenge. This movie is powerful and gripping in every way. It is saddening in many parts, and will make you think twice before you ever think of being mean to someone again.
    Eric A Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2012
    Moving at a very deliberate pace, "Dead Man's Shoes" never feels rushed. In fact, there are times when it gets tedious to watch, yet it continues to entertain. Paddy Considine doesn't have a role that requires much range, but it certainly is an eerie one, and all of the other supporting performances are spot-on as well. "Dead Man's Shoes" has that gritty, low-budget look of realism, and it ends with a somewhat powerful (and harrowing) conclusion.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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