‘MUSCLE’ tells the story of Simon Barrett (Cavan Clerkin), an unsuccessful telemarketer (calling himself a Promotional manager) who we become acquainted to, through witnessing his incompetence in sales. He is rather meek and lowly, clearly unsatisfied with his job and in an unhappy relationship with his wife, Sarah (Polly Maberly).Although there are snippets of affection between the two, it is evident that their marriage is falling apart. Simon, for all intents and purposes, is in somewhat of a mid-life crisis, and as he aimlessly wanders he finds a gym called ‘Atlantis’ which piques his interest. The gym becomes a place where he finds some solace from his unhappy existence, but no sooner than a few sessions in, he is introduced to the boorish and aggressive Terry (Craig Fairbrass). Terry immediately chastises Simon, yet also offers to train him all within the initial confronting introduction; and though initially hesitant, Simon accepts and soon begins his initiation into gym culture.As he slowly immerses himself in the routine of the training and nutrition, he not only improves himself physically but also emotionally. Looking and feeling better, his confidence vastly increases and soon he is excelling in his telemarketing role, exceeding beyond targets and his own peers. Through Terry’s mentoring Simon has regained his renewed vigor, and he starts to achieve. He quickly alters his appears from a balding, overweight and beta-male to something more akin to a cage fighter, with a shaved head, improved physique and a fearsome looking beard.Yet it’s all a complicated balancing act, and evidently his investment in himself did not include that of his own matrimony which soon ends abruptly. Sarah’s exit, understandably leaves Simon in a state of disarray and somewhat foolishly he reveals his woes to Terry who quickly sees this as an opportunity. Simon reluctantly allows his trainer to become a lodger, and Terry makes himself more than at home throwing a house warming party on the evening of his arrival. At is at this juncture, are many of our initial suspicions about Terry are confirmed; this type of house party become more frequent, with the levels of debauchery ever increasing. Additionally, he compels Simon to engage in performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and this does not bode well for Simon, who loses his job after a violent and rage filled outburst. Even to the untrained eye, one would immediately see that Terry is unlikeable, and has a clear sinister agenda from the outset that quickly dismantles his client’s life and freely allows it to spiral out of control.Whilst Terry is established as a villain early on in the film, the narrative is so cleverly composed that any shifts in tones or story twists are completely unexpected. Like David Sumner in Straw Dogs, Simon Barrett is another beta male turned unlikely hero although as the film progressed the confrontation between the two, seems only teased and suggested. Knowing the type of person Terry is, it is easy to not only root for Simon but also feel a sense of impending doom. There is a growing escalation in the tension, as stakes are increased; and our protagonist finds himself not only living with an unhinged lodger but also having to deal with Terry’s questionable set of colleagues.The extent to which this whole saga escalates is truly something brilliant, as neither the characters nor the story ever meander into a state of monotony. The feeling of tension established early on, does very easily glue the viewer to the screen. Although the story and characters are compelling, there were moments of absolute gratuitousness that certainly surprised but were not absolutely necessary to include. The nudity and sex scenes were very graphic and certainly did achieve a shock value, though seemingly would be more appropriate for an exploitation film and not a well-crafted indie movie, such as this.