When I was little, I was a fan a Nancy Drew books. My brother had a bookshelf filled with The Hardy Boys collection. I was jealous of that collection. As an adult, I am obsessed with Investigation Discover channel. I’ll straight up have that on in the background all day when I have a day off. I want to know who did it, why, and how. As of late I am a huge fan of NPR‘s new podcast “Serial” (Go do yourself a favor and subscribe now), so when this film came my way, I was more than intrigued.
Bad Turn Worse, a directed by Simon and Zeke Hawkins, grabbed me from the opening scene. Quippy, Tarantino-esque dialogue from the mouths of Texas teens (also reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek… wow, I’m really dating myself now…) made me sit up a little straighter at attention. The plot is not too far fetched. Three friends; two leaving for college in a few weeks, while the third we all know is destined to become a townie in this arid cotton mill town. BJ is a bitter, big fish in a little pond, whose aggressive charm and good looks have gotten him the smart girl next door Sue. Bobby is the best friend to both but his sheep demeanor gets him into some trouble when BJ steals $20K from his sociopath boss. When the shit hits the fan and the three are roped into a heist that is doomed from the start, everything gets turned in it’s head in this noir thriller.
Writer, Dutch Southern, deserves praise with his love letter to crime novelist Jim Thompson.
Jim Thompson — ‘There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.’
Sue makes mention of this in more than a few ways throughout the script. Little does the audience know that they are being led down a twisted plot line that is secretly spoon fed to them from the get go. But, seriously, you sort of miss it until the very end. When is the last time a movie played out in a surprising fashion? In true noir style, just when you think you’ve figured out what going on, nope, left turn.
The acting is fantastic. Mackenzie Davis, who I had previously been introduced to in Breathe In, is so wonderful. Fully fleshed out girl who is smart as a whip but vulnerable enough to fall for the town “badboy” but still have affection for the shy best friend. She gives the perfect balance of naive and cunning. Logan Huffman, who has one of those, ‘Why do I know him? Yeah, he is hot,” kind of demeanors, nails the role of BJ. That jockish, underachiever bitterness is rife for the taking. Jeremy Allen White is entrancing as Bobby. His endearing fragility draws you in. You genuinely feel sorry that he has such a crap best friend. And then, there is our ultimate baddie; Mark Pelligrino, my mysterious Jacob from LOST. His startling crazy is borderline comical but totally works. Money makes people do bad things, and the character of Giff is no exception.
The music is awesome and the cinematography is beautiful. I say catch this film this weekend. It will keep you on the edge of your nerve from beginning to end. Bad Turn Worse comes out today, November 14th in theaters and on VOD.