Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Bella Thorne gives a spiky, hard-eyed performance in the lead role as a young woman who had already steeled herself to do very bad things and just needs to find someone new to do them to."

We never know the girl's name. She was six when she left her home town; when her mother bundled her up and got her out of there, later to regale her with tales of how tyrannical her father had been. Now she's going back there to kill him - or at least that's what she thinks. Because when she gets there, she will find him already dead, plainly at someone else's hands - and that's just the start of a dangerous journey that will force her to rethink everything she thought she knew.

This is small town America at its foulest. Our heroine can't walk down the street without men sleazing at her in a way that many would find intimidating. She's made of tougher stuff, at one point reflecting on how her daddy taught her to throw a hatchet when she was a young child, but nevertheless, it's tiring having to watch one's back all the time. Only the local bartender treats her with respect, and his advice is to get out of town, but she wants to know what happened and who stole her revenge. A local woman (Lanette Ware) whom all the men seem to hate hints that she might have information. Then there are the brothers (played by director Chad Faust and Mickey Rourke), who lord it over the town and are involved in every kind of trouble - despite the fact that the older one is the sheriff. The bartender is clearly afraid of what they'll do to her, but he doesn't know her.

Bella Thorne gives a spiky, hard-eyed performance in the lead role as a young woman who had already steeled herself to do very bad things and just needs to find someone new to do them to. The film unfolds like a western. The brothers have ego; she has grit. The town is too small to contain them all. The traditional male gaze associated with the genre is missing, however. Thorne is not objectified or dressed up to look pretty. There's a scene in which she changes her clothes in a launderette but she keeps her back to the camera and what it highlights is her muscle. Rather than making her look sexually vulnerable, the scene emphasises her confidence, her willingness to take up space.

Darkness and murkiness overflows from the narrative into the visual make-up of later scenes, testing the skills of cinematographer Kristofer Bonnell, but there's always just enough light to let the actors do their work. Faust himself makes quite an impression in his role and has an uneasy chemistry with Thorne that cements some of the film's best scenes, whilst Rourke is unusually restrained and manages to bring some gravitas to the kind of character who is frequently two dimensional, making him more than just another off-the-shelf bad guy.

Despite a twist at the end, most of what we get here is routine small town thriller material. It's always watchable, however, with the characters making a bigger impression than the drama, and none of them too small to matter. Faust makes it clear that he's got what it takes behind the camera and one hopes that next time he'll be more ambitious.

Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2020
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A young woman returns to her small hometown intent on killing her abusive father only to discover someone murdered him the day before. As the girl searches for answers, she uncovers a family legacy more dangerous than she'd imagined.

Director: Chad Faust

Writer: Chad Faust

Starring: Bella Thorne, Mickey Rourke, Chad Faust, Glen Gould, Elizabeth Saunders

Year: 2020

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: US


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