Dead Dogs
dir Clay Eide scr Todd Bulman
with Joe Reynolds, Jay Underwood, Margot Demeter, Suzanne Carney, John Durbin, Joel Jahnke, Rick Copp
release St Louis Film Fest Nov.00
awards American Independent Award--Seattle 99; Best Debut Performance (Reynolds)--Chicago Alternative Fest 99
99/US 1h32 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
From Fargo territory, an effective black and white noir thriller set in small-town North Dakota and pitting brother against brother. Tom (Reynolds) is a night watchman at the Driftwood Inn, using the empty rooms to rendezvous with his married girlfriend (Carney) and playing long chess games with the front desk manager (Durbin). Nothing much else is going on until Tom's brother Derek (Underwood) rolls in to town with his girlfriend--and Tom's ex--Carmen (Demeter), a kind of low-rent Bonnie and Clyde with plans to rob the hotel ... with Tom's help.

Skilfully building the tension and twisting the inter-relationships, Eide stylishly guides us through the story, drawing out revelatory performances and keeping things tightly focussed on the matter at hand: the heist in which, we know from the start, everything will go horribly wrong. As we discover key details about the characters, we begin to see where the tale is going to twist. And the cast is up to the challenge, nicely bringing out the script's clever touches. It's all perhaps a bit too slow at times, and it lacks both a telling depth and the big surprise we keep expecting to leap out from around the next corner. But it's still a thoroughly engaging little thriller with the ability to chill us to the bone.

[themes, language, adult situations, violence] 11.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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