The Debt Collector Review

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Nickie Dryden is a reformed debt collector-come-murderer with a good wife and a nice life. His arresting officer, Keltie, doesn't like this domestic bliss and attempts to frame/goad Dryden back into his old ways. When this pair cross paths with a young stalker obsessed with Dryden's crimes thingsd get ugly.


Playwright and TV crime dramatist Anthony Neilson's feature debut is a creditable addition to the long line of hard, mean, atmospheric British thrillers.

After his release from prison, a reformed murderous debt collector, Nickie Dryden (Connolly) has become a best-selling autobiographer and feted sculptor. Now married to posh, crusading writer (classy, arty Annis), he enjoys a new high life as a media darling. This doesn't sit well with embittered cop Keltie (Stott) who nailed him 18 years earlier, and he hounds Dryden hoping to catch him out - or goad him back into his old ways. Dryden's track record was to collect debts by torturing or killing someone close to the debtor. Unknown to Dryden or Keltie, disturbed teenager Flipper (a blood curdling Robertson) is obsessed with Dryden's criminal career and embarks on his own brutish spree to emulate and impress his hero. When the three paths cross, things get very ugly indeed.

Neilson takes the honoured basics of crime melodrama and adds the curious modern mania for bestowing celebrity. Connolly appropriately plays the intimidating Dryden close to his chest. Stott is thought-provoking as the good guy whose obsession with what he perceives as right proves a catalyst for tragedy and ironic twists. Neilson also throws in some photogenic, if unnecessary, Scottish colour (notably a climax during the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle), adding some gloss to an effective dark thriller.

Excellent performances and a touch of cinematographer's gloss adds to this effective, dark thriller.