(director/writer: Michael Mailer; screenwriter: Timothy Holland; cinematographer: Adam Biddle; editor: Michael Kuge; music: David & Eric Wurst; cast: Cole Hauser (Russ Potter), Morgan Freeman (Sheriff Fowler), Ben VanderMey (Deputy Tillman Kane), Andrew Stevens (Dewey), Jaime Alexander (Delaine Moore), Darren Mann (Lucius McFalls), Kenneth Farmer (Atticus), John Dylan Atkins (Mace), Liann Pattison (Purnie Cannon), James Harlon Palmer (Cecil Hammond), Dee Lucroy Dempsey (Mrs. Betty), David Dahlgren (Carl, Delaine’s father), Tony DeMil (Jody); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Andrew Stevens; Lionsgate; 2022)

“This thriller is so bad, it quickly went to VOD.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Michael Mailer (“Heart of Champions”/”Blind”) directs and co-writes the illogical screenplay with Timothy Holland. It’s a heavy-handed low-budget TV movie-like thriller, with religious aspirations, set in Mississippi, whose theme is a religious and moral one giving voice against greed and sin. The film revolves around the stupidity of its low-life criminal characters, always making the wrong decisions, which is supposed to be a riot. It features plenty of twists and turns, but never checks in as a coherent work.

It follows the stockbroker Russ Potter (Cole Hauser, in a rather good performance) returning from the city to live again in his small southern hometown. He quickly gets involved in an insurance scam with the attractive next-door neighbor, Delaine Moore (Jaime Alexander), that leads to multiple murders.

An unknown caller repeatedly calls Russ with the veiled threatening message, “Where will you be the minute you wake up dead?” The small-town businessman is dealing with the backlash from the locals over a bad stock tip that he gave on a supposed merger between two companies that did not go through and lost his followers a lot of money. The town is filled with those losers who are so pissed they could kill him.

Russ takes the advice of his diner waitress friend Delaine and alerts Sheriff Thurmond Fowler (Morgan Freeman) of the threatening calls. But he does nothing because he doesn’t take the calls seriously, and besides he’s pissed at Russ because his brother lost his retirement fund by following his tip.

Russ rents from Delaine’s ailing, elderly father (David Dahlgren), the house next door, and the father is mistakenly murdered. The thinking is the bullet was meant for Russ, but the killer went to the wrong house.

We soon learn the identity of the killer as Lucius (Darren Mann), Delaine’s bumbling co-worker in the diner, in debt to the local mobster (Tony DeMil). This comes early on in the pic, and there’s not really anything more to this bad film to watch for, except for some ineptly done car chases and all the other murders in town.

This thriller is so bad, it quickly went to VOD.

REVIEWED ON 12/28/2022  GRADE: C