SKIN IN THE GAME
(director Adisa; screenwriters: story by Adisa/Steven Palmer Peterson; cinematographer: Kira Kelly; editor: Alex Ivany; music: Jeff Morrow; cast: Sammi Hanratty (Dani), Elisabeth Harnois (Sharon), Erica Ash (Lena), Gideon Adlon (Haley), Angélica Celaya (Eve), Cinthya Carmona (Crystal), Stefanee Martin, (Violet); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Barish; Kandoo Films; 2019)
“Despite all its cinematic faults, I’m willing to give it a pass because it covers an important topic that is not getting enough attention in the mainstream news.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A low-budget over-the-top thriller on human trafficking in suburban America. It shows sex trafficking as a growing problem all over the world, and on the increase in the American suburbs. The informative and provocative film is inspired by true events, as it sounds the alarm over the growing problem. It does so as it probes into this multi-million dollar criminal industry by telling the story of the 15-year-old Dani (Sammi Hanratty), her single mom nurse Sharon (Elisabeth Harnois), and the former victim of a similar crime, an old friend of mom’s now dedicating her life to helping other victims, Lena (Erica Ash). Though now estranged from mom (why she’s estranged is never told) Lena still helps when asked, after the police tell mom they won’t handle a case until the party in question is missing for 24 hours.
We learn that Sharon’s naive daughter was snatched on a quiet street in Los Angeles by a sex-trafficking ring led by the evil madame Eve (Angélica Celaya), who tricked her through an Internet ruse into going to her house of prostitution.
First-time filmmaker Adisa directs in a too much melodramatic way, but uses her own experience with human traffickers to tell a plausible story. The script by Steven Palmer Peterson earnestly tells this disturbing story, but even if its effort is earnest the script still is sensationalist, exploitative and undeveloped in its character study. Nevertheless, despite all its cinematic faults, I’m willing to give it a pass because it covers an important topic that is not getting enough attention in the mainstream news and maybe there’s enough here to reach the parents of vulnerable teen daughters.
REVIEWED ON 7/26/2019