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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
scr Ruckus Skye, Lane Skye, Nick Morris
prd Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman, JD Lifshitz, Raphael Margules
with Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Amanda Brugel, Robert Maillet, Ryan McDonald, James McDougall, Isaiah Rockcliffe, Leslie Adlam, John Hickman, Andrew Siwik, Justin Holiday
release US 5.Jun.20,
Is it streaming?
With a whizzy visual approach, filmmakers Millott and Murnion unspool a flurry of drama, action and grisliness centred around a teenaged girl. Everything feels familiar, from the premise to the characters, but the fast pace and shifting series of events keep the audience on edge as this situation gets increasingly scrappy and desperate. And the gleefully violent flourishes, combined with some terrific character gags, make it a guilty pleasure.
Questioned by police, 13-year-old Becky (Wilson) tries to remember what happened as she headed off for a weekend at a lake house with her dad Jeff (McHale). Still grieving her mother's death, Becky is annoyed when Jeff's girlfriend Kayla (Brugel) arrives with her young son Ty (Rockcliffe). While Becky sulks angrily in the woods, four escaped convicts led by Dominick (James) turn up looking for something. From her secret fort, Becky might be the only person who can rescue her family. And she isn't remotely squeamish about dishing out ferocious revenge.
The filmmakers continually wrong-foot the characters (and audience) with jarring action and some seriously nasty violence. So while it's not difficult to predict where this is headed, there are plenty of nerve-jangling surprises. As the situation quickly turns into a stand-off between hulking goons and a little girl, it becomes clear that Becky is a force to be reckoned with, and that the baddies will figure that out a little too late. So the fun lies in watching her quick thinking turn the tables in wrenchingly gruesome ways.
This is Wilson's show, and she holds the film with her engaging, feisty resolve. With his Nazi tattoos and quietly menacing tones, James has a great time playing against type as an imposing monster who also has no limits. He keeps the character nicely grounded even as things spiral out of control. McHale and Brugel bring some steeliness to their side roles. And as Dominick's frazzled cohorts, Maillet, McDonald and McDougall provide witty personalities in their own set-pieces.
The events unfold with energy and spark, even if there's not much suspense. Violence and death are sudden and brutal, so it's the dynamic characters who hold the interest. There isn't much to this film aside from a series of savage encounters between them, although moments of conscience add some texture, commenting on how violent actions can change a person. And it's unlikely that anyone who sees this movie will ever underestimate the power of a 13-year-old girl.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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