A weird, grubbily powerful study of fear and loathing in a Cornish fishing village, which flirts with the language of many genres to arrive at a filmic language of its own. The double-meaning of the title – literal fishing bait and the colloquialism meaning something flagrantly shady – is fitting for the film’s salty, queasy sense of suspicion, outrage and doom.
(Independent writer-director Mark) Jenkin has filmed Bait in black-and-white on a hand-cranked 16mm Bolex, and indeed hand-processed the film stock, possibly in coffee grounds, or contemptuous gobs of spit. It’s a blunt piece of work, whose images are scratchy, flickering, flaring.
Bait ultimately feels as unique as a found object, defying classification. It’s a creeping, original British work that feels pounded into existence by hand, or possibly belched up by the angry sea.
Ian Mantgani, Sight & Sound