(A.k.a. JAKE)

Two childhood friends have drifted apart over the years, both branching out into adult lives with their respective families.

On the one hand is Arran (Matthew Hopkins), who is happily married and successful in his career. He has a nice suburban home and lives for holidays with his family.

His old pal Jake (Leigh Sorrell), however, is not doing so well. He's stayed with his first girlfriend, Hannah (Natascha Sauer), with whom he has a little girl. But he is blighted by unemployment, alcoholism and bouts of ugly domestic violence. The occasional flashback demonstrates how his own abusive mother didn't give him the best start in life.

Jake writes weekly to Arran, lying about his current set-up in a bid to match his mate's contentment. Arran replies whenever he remembers to, innocently gushing over his idyllic existence.

Beleaguered by social services and sick of looking at Hannah's whining face, Jake finally cracks and goes AWOL for two weeks. Hannah and her friend Julie (Emilia Ufir) aren't too concerned as to his whereabouts: they just hope he's gone for good.

In actual fact, Jake has been crashing with hedonist Ethan (Wade Radford), who he met at a quiet gay bar. Ethan and his small group of friends like to party on a night. Not caring too much about Jake's background, Ethan welcomes him into their circle.

But questions start getting asked. Where does Jake go when he says he's leaving for work on a morning? Why does he carry a photograph of a little girl in his wallet? Is he married with kids, despite his suggestion of other designs to Ethan? And when will his volatile temper rear its ugly head in the presence of his new pals?

He does eventually explode, and in the meantime is tracked down by Julie, who coincidentally happens to be a friend of Ethan's. This prompts Ethan to dig deeper into his new buddy's private affairs, even arranging for a female friend to follow Jake to 'work'.

The truth comes out, and has a devastating effect on all concerned...

We've followed DIY filmmaker Jason Impey's efforts with great interest here at SGM, from early gore extravaganzas such as HOMEMADE 2 through to the homoerotic barbarity of BOYS BEHIND BARS.

JAKE is, without question, the self-funded director's most accomplished film to date. A grimy tale of council estates, domestic abuse, chemical dependencies and the eternal woes of Britain's working classes, much of the film's success is due to Radford's authentic script.

The dialogue, as profane as it almost constantly is, rings true in sometimes startlingly abrasive fashion. We know these characters; we've been around these characters, on the streets, in the pubs, on public transport etc.

Radford has clearly put a lot of effort into developing Ethan on screen. Despite Jake being the focal point of the film, it's Ethan that comes through as the most chilling, plausible character. His language, his persona, his aura are all frighteningly genuine: you understand this character, even if you don't warm to him. He wears some cool old-school punk T-shirts too.

Female characters are also well-written, with Radford's screenplay paying an unusual amount of attention to their personalities: these aren't just downtrodden simpletons - they're resilient, keen to live rather than survive, and ultimately provide the film with its much-needed heart.

If the gritty realism of Radford's script is what initially impresses, then it's worth remembering that it would still have come to nought without a bit of decent direction to bring it to life. Impey handles the action well, pacing the film intelligently and never letting things sag despite the relatively long (for this kind of fare) 117-minute running time.

The music is great too, all urban beats and vitriolic vocals. Again, it lends credibility to scenes which are already close to home. There's a whiff of Shane Meadows at times, certainly - but, if anything, Impey and Radford's concerns are for an even more repressed form of life than the ones Meadows busies himself with.

Okay, some of the performances are iffy (in truth, only the three lead males hit the spot), but that's not unexpected when you're watching something so low-budget. Edited slickly, handsomely shot and at times surprisingly optimistic despite the seething anger that runs through it, JAKE is well worth checking out.

The film has found distribution in America already, and is available on DVD over there bearing the alternate title SEX LIES AND DEPRAVITY. Although the onscreen title remains JAKE (at least, on the version I viewed), I suspect the film will become known as DEPRAVITY in the long term - especially as a sequel now exists: MORE SEX LIES AND DEPRAVITY (with a third instalment pencilled in for 2014).

We'll keep you posted on whether the film earns itself a UK release. In the meantime, you can find out more about it by visiting the official site.

Review by Stuart Willis

Directed by Jason Impey