CALIBRE hits its hackle-raising target dead-center, scoring bullseyes for its writer-director and cast, adding a compact but potent Scottish Highlands brew to the Careful Where You Vacation genre in the tradition of classics like Deliverance (gratefully sans squeals). You can tell early on that there’s going to be a situation that’s hard to get out of: what makes this tightly knit nightmare work its chill factor so well is how deftly it handles its moody setting, malleable characters, and jarring surprises.

About to settle into married life and fatherhood, ‘Vaughan’ (Jack Lowden) agrees to go on a last-blast hunting trip in the remote countryside with his old boarding school chum ‘Marcus’ (Martin McCann). An awkward night of introductions to the locals includes the their flirtatious partying with a couple of the local lassies. Hungover and shaky, the next day’s deer hunt takes a catastrophic turn, and tragedy turns to terror when the guys try to cover up what happened. Wrong move. Wrong place. Wrong crowd to wrong.

Writer-director Matt Palmer toyed with the idea for nine years. After a decade honing skills on shorts, this feature debut marks him as a talent to watch. Arresting performances from Lowden and McCann are flanked by a glove-fit supporting cast, headed by the always-solid Tony Curran and beguiling newcomer Kate Bracken. Location shooting was done in Beecraigs Country Park in Scotland’s county of West Lothian.

From 2018, running a taut 101 minutes, with Ian Pirie, Cameron Jack and Cal MacAninch.

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