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Muscle (film)

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Muscle is a 2019 British psychological thriller movie, written and directed by Gerard Johnson and starring Cavan Clerkin and Craig Fairbrass. The movie is shot in monochrome, which contributes to the dark atmosphere and psychologically charged nature. Described as a "brutal black comedy" and displaying a "uniquely bleak vision of male interaction",[1] Muscle is a movie that "packs a punch". [2]


The movie follows Simon (Clerkin), a middle aged man, struggling to come to terms with the life he leads - a dead end job and an unhappy relationship. One day on his walk to work he sees a muscular man come out of a gym and resolves to make a change in his lifestyle. Having joined the gym, Simon is observed by Terry (Fairbrass), displaying poor technique on one of the weight machines. Terry offers his services as a personal trainer, which Simon reluctantly agrees to.

Soon after this, Simon's girlfriend Sarah leaves him, leaving him with a dilemma over how to pay his mortgage bills. Terry suggests that he move in with Simon, as he needs to leave his current residence, and thus aiding both men. Again, Simon reluctantly agrees to this.

For a short time, Simon's life appears to be heading in a good direction - he reduces his alcohol intake and sees a notable improvement in his performance at work. This is short-lived however, as, following an injection of a dubious substance from Terry, Simon enters a fit of rage at work, physically threatening his colleagues and manager, and smashing some equipment. Ashamed at his behaviour and at a loss for what to do next, Terry offers Simon a position as a delivery driver for his supplements, which Simon accepts. Simon learns from Terry during their work outs together that Terry served in the military in Iraq before doing special missions that involved committing atrocities on civilian population, and that he has also spent time in prison. We also learn that Terry has a collection of pictures documenting some of the terrible things that he's done in his past.

Another thing that happens frequently after Terry moves in with Simon, is the throwing of parties involving lots of alcohol and drugs, which invariably end in sexual shenanigans. It's after one such night that Simon goes to bed with Crystal - a friend of Terry's that recently moved in with them. Simon wakes up the next morning in bed with both Crystal and Terry. Uncomfortable with this encounter, Simon's tries to create some distance between himself and Terry and Crystal. Terry, encouraged by Crystal, clearly having some plan up their sleeve that involves Simon, tries to repair the relationship, but when this repartee is rebuffed by Simon, Terry moves forward with his plans. The scheme is revealed one night when Terry invites over some friends and they taunt and humiliate Simon (who is 'in bed' at the time), as involving a large shipment of their product, where Simon is obviously intended to take the fall, should he be caught. This shipment ends up being a deliver and collect job to France, that Simon is very reluctant to undertake. However, Terry uses his manipulative influence to convince Simon to do it.

It's at this stage of the movie that Simon finally regains some control of his life, as he decides not to complete the ddelivery, but instead returns home, where he goes through Terry's belongings to find the photographs. Disgusted and fearful, Simon takes the photographs, and begins to try to find out more about Terry. He discovers that Terry isn't a personal trainer at the gym he frequents, and his previous registered address is a local diner. Simon informs Terry that he's not completing the delivery and instead is going to the police, with the photographs.

At the police station, Simon is treated with significant suspicion due to the lack of due diligence he used in interacting with Terry, whose last name he never found out and with whom he did not sign any lease agreement. From the inspector at the police station, Simon learns that Terry is in fact named Trevor, and appears to be well on the police's radar. Simon slips out of the station and returns home, to find all of Terry and Crystal's possessions gone, along with some of Simon's own valuables.


  • Simon - Cavan Clerkin
  • Terry - Craig Fairbrass
  • Crystal - Lorraine Burroughs
  • Sarah - Polly Maberly


The movie has only positive ratings from 10 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, awarded mostly 3 or 4 stars out of 5. On IMDb the movie has 6.1 out of 10 from 330 reviews. This mostly positive response to the movie is hindered by a finale that doesn't give the viewer the showdown between the two lead characters that the movie seemed to be building towards.


Cavan Clerkin won Best Actor at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn for his performance as Simon.[3]


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