Bad Turn Worse (aka We Gotta Get Out of This Place) Review

Posted: November 4, 2014 in 2014 Fantasy FilmFest, Reviews, Thriller
Tags: , , , , , , ,

BTW2The would-be teen noir thriller Bad Turn Worse was shown under the even more awkward title We Gotta Get Out of This Place at the 2014 Fantasy Filmfest. The new name is an improvement in that it is both more concise and a more accurate summation of the plot trajectory of this underwhelming little movie. For all its faults, Bad Turn Worse can now boast of truth in advertising as this movie starts out bad and, oh yeah, turns worse. A traditional premise that could have made for reasonable entertainment is undone by poor casting and a weak script.

Picture an Abercrombie and Fitch print advertisement featuring three attractive, vacuous youth in various stages of undress. Now, imagine them being called upon to act. That may give you an inkling of how unsuitable the three leads are in this movie. As the trio struggles to portray high school seniors in a small Texas town, you can’t help but wonder why they spent so much time on their hair and so little time on their accents. There is not a single genuine moment in any of their performances.

Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) and Sue (Mackenzie Davis) are headed for college; Billie Joe is headed for trouble (Logan Huffman). BJ decides to rob the cotton gin where he and Bobby work and blow the money on a weekend of debauchery with his best friend and best girl, who thank him by screwing around behind his back. Meanwhile, Giff (Mark Pellegrino), the proprietor of the cotton mill, which is naturally engaged in a high-stakes money laundering operation since all crime syndicates love to go to the ass end of Texas with large sums of money, is dismayed by the loss of operating funds.

Giff could be an effective villain if the script allowed Pellegrino to play him with straight shitkicker menace. Unfortunately, first-time screenwriter Dutch Southern attempts to do a Tarentino and provide the bad guy with an outsized vocabulary, so we are left to wince as Giff speaks of “commonality” and displays a tendency to “digress.” Note for future reference: that approach works with Samuel L. and just about no one else. The other head-slapping choice made by Southern is to use noir novelist extraordinaire Jim Thompson as an inspiration for the characters, and thereby, the film. The audience can only say in response, “I know Jim Thompson. I’ve read Jim Thompson. You, sir, are no Jim Thompson.”

The directing team of brothers Simon and Zeke Hawkins is more effective in the technical efforts. The finished product is well staged and shots are sharply framed with nice hues. The sets and locations also work well, and the supporting cast, even those only on screen for a moment (or perhaps especially those who are only on screen for a moment), convey an authenticity of time and place that the leads cannot muster. By the time William Devane shuffles onto the stage in his bathrobe, looking like John McCain during the 2008 town hall presidential debate, we’ve left bad and are square in the middle of worse.

One and a half stars.

 

 

 

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