Official Selection


Drama, Thriller, Social Issues
International Premiere


Director: Gerard Johnson
Country: Great Britain
Year: 2019
Film duration: 01:50
Language: English
Producer: Matthew James Wilkinson, Ed Barratt, Richard Wylie, Eric Tavitian, Fred Fiore
Screenwriter: Gerard Johnson
DoP: Stuart Bentley
Editor: Ian Davies
Music: The The
Cast: Cavan Clerkin, Craig Fairbrass, Polly Maberly, Lorraine Burroughs, Mark Stobbart
Production: Stigma Films


“Muscle” is a densely packed thriller that drips in testosterone as it follows the life of meek call-centre worker Simon whose everyday existence is one of boring monotony. Trying to get out of the rut, Simon joins a low rent gym where he meets Terry, an intimidating physical specimen o  who offers his services as a personal trainer. As Simon physically begins to change, so does his life and it seems that Terry is helping him achieve all his goals. But when Terry begins to insinuate himself into all aspects of Simon’s life, new and dangerous motivations begin to reveal themselves.

With the very notion of ‘toxic masculinity’ being something of a hot topic at the moment, Gerard Johnson’s film is a timely piece of work that explores the darker elements of the male psyche. Alongside its compelling psychological aspects, it’s also a breathtakingly bravura piece of filmmaking with Johnson consistently keeping the audience on edge as events begin to spiral out of control.

The film is complemented by some stunning black and white cinematography from Stuart Bentley, which emphasises the male body and the desire for perfection as well as creating a pervading atmosphere of sweat-dripped tension and dark undertones of violence.

The performances also buoy everything along superbly. Cavan Clerkin as Simon finds the perfect balance of outer timidity and inner rage while Craig Fairbrass – known chiefly in the UK for a string of ‘hard man’ roles – plays of his screen persona to create a complex character of fearsome intensity.

Please note that this film contains sequences of flashing lights

Laurence Boyce


Gerard Johnson After working in the industry as a runner on commercials and music videos, Gerard moved into post- production and created his first short film "Lone Man" in 2001. In 2005 he created a short film called "Tony" and four years later it's full-length version which become an underground cult hit that has won prizes around the world. His next film project "Hyena" (2014) sold internationally around the world. Thriller "Muscle" is his third full-length feature film.
Director's filmography: Tony (2009), Hyena (2014), Muscle (2019)
  • Gerard Johnson

    Fri, November 22, 2019


    Coca-Cola Plaza, iSense Saal, Tallinn

    Screening code: 080102
    Subtitles: English, Estonian
    Q&A guests: Gerard Johnson, Richard Wylie, Matt Wilkinson, Cavan Clerkin, Craig Fairbrass
    Screening duration: 02:20
    Language: English

    Sat, November 23, 2019


    Athena Keskus, Tartu

    Screening code: 091904
    Subtitles: English, Estonian
    Screening duration: 01:50
    Language: English

    Thu, November 28, 2019


    Coca-Cola Plaza, Saal 7, Tallinn

    Screening code: 140406
    Subtitles: English, Estonian
    Screening duration: 01:50
    Language: English






    © 2019 NGO Black Nights Film Festival