Saturday, January 23, 2016
Written & Directed By: Riley Stearns
Cinematography By: Michael Ragen
Editor: Sarah Beth Shapiro
Cast: Leland Orser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Ellis, Jon Gries, Lance Reddick, Beth Grant, Leonard Earl Howze
A man who debunks mind control techniques as a profession must help a couple whose daughter has recently joined a cult.
This is an interesting little film. It could almost be a play for how small the production is and how few characters are truly central to it. It’s a film that kind of sneaks up on you s at first it seems so unassuming and more of a dark comedy.
Now I am going to warn you right now for me to discuss this film. You really have to have seen it. So from this point on will really be freely speaking about the film. With spoilers.
It is a film that once you finish watching. You want to watch from the beginning to catch the clues. To see if all that happens really checks out.
What is smart about the film is that you think it is going to be this film about a man down on his luck an wreck. Who has one actual talent or skill and though his own life is tragic. He will manage to persevere if only in this one area. So when the twist happens it takes you by surprise. Though when it makes itself evident and makes a few explanations. You feel stupid as it seems obvious now.
As all the techniques that he is supposed to use against her. Are actually happening to him, by her. He is already on a downward spiral from the hilarious opening scene. So that as he continues to sink lower and lower.
Once she comes into his life. She is breaking him down with the same techniques he is supposed to know. That he has described to the audience. Are happening to him only we barely notice as the occurrences seem random and apart of his bad luck.
Once the film goes into the third act all bets are off as it becomes stranger and stranger until some answers come to light. Once that happens, the film lets you off the hook gently. Then you begin to notice how smart the film is. As up to this point it has been very deadpan and dry, especially with it's humor. Though not too unsettling.
By the end the film comes off a little shakes but mostly solid. Even though not as earth shattering as it would seem. It is a nice tight little darkly comedic thriller to a point. Not as smart as it thinks it is, even when seeming to show off. It seems to hold itself back a little to be humble.
The performances are all on point. They all hot the right notes.
It's rare to see Leland Orser in a lead role. So it's exciting here to see him to not only have one but succeed and be wholly believable in the role. A character who seems more like a supporting one. Even in his own life. He is despicable, yet you feel general sympathy for him.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is all confidence in this role. She hits no wrong note as a person who seems to be a victim, though ultimately might be the freshest faced Femme-Fatale. She enchants, yet never truly makes you feel sorry for her. Most of all she ends up becoming downright scary. Though always with a calm face and demeanor.
The film makes it seem like each and every character might be playing a role afraid to reveal their real selves, be it out of fear and using their personae as armor or for ulterior motives.
This film is a solid little sleeper that keep you on your toes and is worth checking out.