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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Stretch (2013)

Director: Torrey Inez
Stars: Hannah Nichols, Martin Augustine, Michael Jendza, Ron Eichler and Chelsea Elizabeth
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
It's very clear that the people at Grace North Back Row want to make a Hollywood blockbuster. Whether this came from director Torrey Inez, who also shot and edited The Stretch, James Petkovski, who wrote it, one of the three others who produced the film with them or even all the above, it screams Hollywood sci-fi action blockbuster nonsense and that's what destroys it. Obviously these folk have been watching lots of movies, for everything we see here we've seen before, just done with a much bigger budget. It begins as it means to go on, with a gun battle during a car chase, which I have to say I never expected to see in a 48 hour film challenge entry. From there it feels as familiar as a trip to my bathroom in the night. Everything is derivative, but without the cash to make any of it look flashy; those gleaming cars are as far as it manages to go in that direction. The actors, dialogue, location... even the basic concept is archetypal. The film could have been called Déjà Vu, but hilariously that's already been done.

'You're a monster,' Claire shouts at John, who's been shot while trying to save her life. I think we were supposed to believe he was kidnapping her, but Martin Augustine looks far too nice to be a bad guy. He gets her to safety, but their pursuers will find them, and before they do he has to explain to her what's going on. Eventually the inevitably quirky villain traipses into their new apocalyptic surroundings with a fine line in faux cool gibberish. You just know he has to have cool sunglasses. And... well, you know how this works: there's a standoff and a sacrifice and a twist and all the scenes that need to pepper it with the right beats. I got bored quickly. To be fair, it's capably done on most fronts, but without any style of its own. Everything it has is borrowed. People who can do this should really try to put on something new and see if it fits. Jump Ship Productions may be able to get away with five minute Cliff Notes versions of imaginary features, but most people can't and to do so they need much more substance than this.

The Stretch can be watched for free at Vimeo.

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