Friday 9 January 2015

One More for the Road (2013)

Director: Navin Ramaswaran
Stars: Lindsay Smith and Jeff Sinasac
This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
I was beginning to despair for a great horror short in this second set, but it finally started ramping up with this one and ended strongly with The Bad Days. This one is another longer short, 17 minutes of Canadian revenge story with an agreeable pair of leads. Bill picks up Diane from Marty Moos Chicken & Ribs to take her to the Sunnyside Inn out in the countryside. They're married, but clearly their relationship has broken and Bill seems to want to rekindle the spark. He just as clearly isn't going to get anywhere because, while Diane might look pretty in her pink sundress, dirty blonde hair and Lolita sunglasses, she's an utter bitch and she doesn't have a problem being as contrary as possible. Then again, Bill is no catch either. That's a notably receding hairline if she cares about looks and a bitter attitude if she doesn't. He doesn't talk a lot because he's trying not to say all the things he wants to. Sex is off the agenda quickly; Bill thinks that she stopped being kinky and became a prude, but Diane thinks he's a pervert. This isn't going anywhere nice.

Where it goes is the middle of nowhere. Diane wakes up after a nap to find that darkness has fallen, their car is stopped and Bill is in the road with a crowbar. We're not shocked in the slightest to find out that she cheated on him and he has photo evidence behind her visor. So far, so expected, but from this point on it isn't quite so predictable. I liked the way that writer Kelly Michael Stewart spent some time to build these two characters before venturing into horror territory and I loved the way that they behave once it all hits the fan. Neither of these is remotely a good catch and they've ventured so far away from each other that there's only history to share, but Jeff Sinasac and Lindsay Smith ably demonstrate the darker side of love. They believably feel like a couple who used to love each other back in the good times but whose love has become disgust; they only exist in the same place out of habit and a sense of duty and use their time to needle each other incessantly. Their hate is all the more strong because it used to be love.

I liked this a lot when I saw it at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival, but even then I knew that it must partly have been because of how lackluster the set had been up until then. After a second look, I'm still fond of it but I have some problems with how the twists unfold. There are a few of them, but while I thoroughly dug the key ones, the final shot being a victory just as much as it is a defeat, I didn't buy into all the details of how we get there; there seems to be a notable hole that could have been easily plugged but wasn't. I wonder why. If the lead actors are the strongest part and the road the story takes them onto follows close behind, I should mention that nobody else really lets the side down, Bruce William Harper's cinematography, Stewart's bitchy dialogue and the fight choreography by Tyler Williams all easily worthy of note. Those needling little questions about the details of the plot within the plot are by far the biggest problem the film has; but, while those issues are mildly annoying, they're not showstoppers.

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