Not rated | Time: 1:29
Ansel Roth (character actor Leland Orser) was once a renowned expert on cults and mind control, but he’s now lost a TV show, a marriage and the rights to his latest book. Desperate for money to pay his bills, he agrees to rescue 28-year-old Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from a cult known simply as “Faults” and take her away for deprogramming. But the more they’re together, the more we wonder which one of them has really lost free will.
It’s the first feature film from writer/director Riley Stearns (Winstead’s husband). The movie wasn’t screened locally, but several critics who have seen it at film festivals elsewhere were full of praise:
▪ Keith Phipps, The Dissolve: “The film begins as an exercise in tense black humor, then slowly turns up the tension as the humor starts to bleed away. Stearns directs with a slow-burning intensity that becomes more unsettling the deeper Ansel goes into his task, and the more it becomes apparent he doesn’t have an easy way out.”
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▪ Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat: “A hypnotically offbeat movie, mixing pitch-black humor and thematic ambition in a way that’s difficult to resist. Fueled by two terrific performances and a smart script, it’s a picture you’ll be thinking about for days afterward.”
▪ Matt Glasby, The List: “Stearns’ skill is creating a mundane universe where anything’s possible, and all this in one motel room. ‘I’ve got no idea of what any of this is anymore,’ despairs Ansel. Dark-side cinema connoisseurs will, happily, concur.”
(At Screenland Crossroads.)
| Sharon Hoffmann, email@example.com