(director/writer: Chris Cullari/Jennifer Raite; cinematographer: Elie Smolkin; editor: David Bilow; music: Zac Clark; cast: Chris Messina (Seth), Lorenza Izzo (Blair), Malin Akerman (Jillian), Sandrine Holt (Delilah); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Marcei A. Brown, Andrew Miller, Jessica Rhoades, Jeanette Volturno: Saban; 2022)
“Suffering from a shaky script.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The psychological thriller about two women escaping from a cult group is the first feature film from co-writers and co-directors Chris Cullari and Jennifer Raite. The film was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and only cast a few actors.
It follows two suburban Los Angeles women, Jillian (Malin Akerman) and Blair (Lorenza Izzo), who after years living in Skylight, a home for a California based cult ground, escape from the leader’s compound called “The Aviary,” and wander on foot through the New Mexico desert fleeing from a mind- controlling cult group. Faced with the fierce desert sun, the ladies begin hallucinating over their abusive manipulative cult leader Seth (Chris Messina). They lose trust in one another as they hope to reach the nearest town of Gallup in four days before their food supply runs out. The ladies have stolen their leader’s laptop with recorded therapy sessions and all the cult leader’s horrible secrets that should bring criminal charges against him if they can get it to the authorities.
The ladies fight for survival, as the film suffers from a shaky script that never makes clear what’s real or not.
It’s a thin story that only says what was said before about cults in other films with similar themes, and though the lead performances are fine the film isn’t.
REVIEWED ON 6/2/2022 GRADE: C+