While this low-key thriller is strikingly well shot and acted, it never seems like it digs very far beneath the surface. So while we're intrigued by its twisty plot, we can't quite figure out what the point is or why we should care. Still, director Chun shows real skill at capturing a rural community while keeping the mood dark and nasty.
At a sleazy roadside motel, manager Chloe (Eve) is saving up the cash kickbacks she gets from the prostitutes who use the rooms. She's determined to move somewhere nicer with her young daughter Sophia (Parker), and now this is becoming urgent since social services is threatening to take Sophia into care if they don't move soon. Then things get complicated when the nearly blind thug Topo (Cranston) arrives. Separated from his assistant, he forces Chloe to help him recover the package he's meant to deliver. But that's been stolen by the hotheaded young cop Billy (Marshall-Green), who has a twisted past with Chloe. Which is why Billy's wife (Cummings) is furious that she's now coming round the house.
All of this takes place in a small town not far from the US-Canada border, where the autumn chill is beginning to bite. The film captures a terrific sense of isolation in this place, where everyone knows everyone else's business but pretends not to care. Eve gives Chloe a surprising tenacity as she bravely deals with Topo's demands, hoping maybe she'll get something out of it. Well, she has nothing to lose, and everyone seems to underestimate her desperation.
The two men in the story are terrific foils for her: Cranston puts on a random Eastern European accent as the tough guy who isn't ready to retire quite yet, while Marshall-Green is a bundle of unpredictable, out-of-control greed. But the film has very little to say about the moral decisions these people face. Chloe is little more than a survivor; even as she's trying to protect Sophia from the violence and vice all around them, their lives are utterly empty. And as a result, the film feels empty too.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th January 2014
Box Office USA: $11.6k
Distributed by: Stage 6
Production compaines: Sasquatch Films, Syncopated Films, Three Point Capital, Venture Forth, Whitewater Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 23
IMDB: 5.7 / 10
Director: Tze Chun
Producer: Mynette Louie, Trevor Sagan
Screenwriter: Tze Chun, Osgood Perkins, Nick Simon
Starring: Alice Eve as Chloe, Bryan Cranston as Topo, Logan Marshall-Green as Billy, Ursula Parker as Sophia, Leo Fitzpatrick as Donnie, Erin Cummings as Amber, Robin Lord Taylor as Quincy, Sarah Sokolovic as Gwen, Marceline Hugot as Denise, Esau Pritchett as Big T, Stephen Sheffer as Jacques, Robert Prescott as Detective McKenney, Ashlie Atkinson as Social Worker, Dylan Chalfy as Police Officer
Also starring: Robin Taylor
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