A Good Woman is Hard to Find

Social realism and B-movie exploitation combine in this drum-tight horror from Northern Ireland

Film Review by Adam Stafford | 21 Oct 2019
  • A Good Woman in Hard to Find
Film title: A Good Woman is Hard to Find
Director: Abner Pastoll
Starring: Sarah Bolger, Edward Hogg, Andrew Simpson, Jane Brennan
Release date: 25 Oct

Attempting to merge the social realist drama with the revenge exploitation flick, this tight Northern Irish thriller went down a storm at 2019’s Frightfest, taking home the horror festival's best acting and best film awards. It's centred around the council estate life of Sarah (Bolger), a recently widowed single mum of two whose daily struggles with grief, living expenses and an overbearing mother are made worse when local thug Tito (a charismatic Andrew Simpson) cuckoos her house to stash recently stolen drugs. Simpson brings a real palpable menace to the character as he flits from charming to psychotic in the space of a few seconds. Meanwhile, local gangster Leo Miller (Hogg) is busting kneecaps in search of Tito and his pinched stash.

As you can imagine, things dramatically go south in a (very stylish) orgy of bloody violence. Much like 2017’s Irish revenge picture Bad Day for the Cut, this film throws a seemingly ordinary protagonist into a world of violent thuggery, sleazy clubs and campy villains. Bolger puts in a fine performance as the soft-touch widow who eventually snaps under the stress, guiding her way out of the underworld labyrinth. There are some especially tender scenes between Sarah and her mother (Brennan) and the two kids, and the score is atonal and jarring where it needs to be, with a dismemberment scene that has the same visceral energy as Shallow Grave.

Perhaps where it falls short are some of the plot ABCs: we can predict exactly where this film is heading, given it feels like a facsimile of so many exploitation B-movies. The sexed-up 'avenging angel' finale is also problematic, and Edward Hogg as the villain seems to want to channel Paddy Considine at his most nefarious, but comes across more like Derren Brown having a shite week.

Released on Digital HD on 25 Oct by Signature Entertainment – also in select cinemas from 25 Oct