Dir: Taylor Sheridan
Star: Eric Jay Beck, April Matson, Akeem Smith, Greg Cipes

On their way back from a trip to the country, four young people are drugged. They wake up in a sealed house, along with five others. They each have a vial surgically implanted in the back of their necks which, as they soon discover, cannot be removed. A video message informs them they are being "harvested" for chemicals produced by the body, and have a little less than a day to produce an adequate quantity, or else. Oh, and the chemicals? They only are created by pain. Better get cracking then. Specifically, cracking fingernails, ankles, teeth... How should it be done? Do they share the pain and the damage equally? Or really fuck someone up, proper like. Should the men take more than the women (I'm surprised no-one brought up childbirth)? What about the pregnant lady? And, even if they do produce the required quota, what will happen to them then?

It's an intriguing concept, but the film doesn't seem to do enough with what's likely the most intriguing angle, the psychological aspects, to satisfy. The reason - the chemicals are used to make top of the line designer drugs - and the execution seem fairly flimsy, with logic that struggles to convince, and falls apart entirely at the end in an effort at a Saw-like twist. There are a few squirm-inducing moments occasionally, but the impact of this unwilling masochism never feels as much as it should, and there isn't any real sense of escalation. While the performances are functional, you'd be hard-pushed to say you feel much for any of the characters, mostly because the script gives you no reason to do so. It's this lack of emotional impact which leaves the film a forgettable failure.

[May 2014]

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