(director/writer: Isaac Hirotsu Woofter; cinematographers: Jake Simpson, Maximilian Lewin; editor: Kristian Otero; music: Ethan Startzman; cast: Jessica Pimentel (Marta), Ramin Karimloo (Owais), Alexandra Faye Sadeghian (Bella Patterson), Bryant Carroll (Gordy), Pooya Mohseni (Yeva), Jaye Alexander (Standrick), Alok Tewari (Shoaib); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Isaac Hirotsu Woofter; Paralysis/Vimeo; 2023)

“Tells in its own unsettling way this all too familiar story of drugs destroying a family.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Isaac Hirotsu Woofter, former Broadway actor and writer of a Steven Seagal film, in his feature film debut, presents this enticing indie drama. It’s a social drama/domestic thriller that tells in its own unsettling way this all too familiar story of drugs destroying a family. The DPs, Maximilian Lewin and Jake Simpson, shoot it with a shaky hand-held camera, giving it an authentic look. 

The artistic teenager Bella (Alexandra Faye Sadeghian), an introvert, lives in a trailer park not far from NYC with her overprotective but abusive drug-dealing/bartender stepfather Gordy (Bryant Carroll) and her dying of a sickness mother Yeva (Pooya Mohseni).

Looking for a fresh start, Bella flees with Bandit, her pet pocket squirrel, to NYC, where she reinvents herself and tries  to disengage herself from her dark past.

After a rough start she is helped in the city by coffee shop owner Owais (Ramin Karimloo, Canadian Broadway actor and metalhead singer) employing her and the bartender Marta (Jessica Pimentel) and the gay street clothes merchant Standrick (Jaye Alexander). They all look out for her as they realize the heavy trip she’s going through (in which they have also experienced).

The heroine is a sympathetic character who struggles to find her identity. The low-budget indie breaks no new ground, but has a vibrant heartbeat, a nice quick pace and gets a solid performance from Sadeghian.

REVIEWED ON 2/26/2024  GRADE: B-