I’m making sure the windows are locked tonight. Three consecutive films I viewed at the Los Angeles Film Festival, June 10-18, dealt with tying people up. Not in a nice way, but at least in two cases, a funny way.
Caught tells the tale of a good-hearted teen having an affair with a married man (wait, I’m reconsidering that “good-hearted” observation) who is kidnapped by the man’s wife and, among other things, tied up. In Shevenge, three BFFs fantasize about how to punish men, which involves tying them up. In Old Tricks, a burglar learns that you should never try to steal from a retired magician and escape artist. They’re kind of hard to tie up.
Caught, by director Maggie Kelly and screenwriter Marcy Holland, bring us a slightly over-the-top tale of the wages of infidelity.
Anna Camp (The Help, Pitch Perfect, True Blood) plays Sabrina, the cheated on wife, who just happens to be a sociopath. Sabrina abducts Allie, played by Stefanie Scott (Insidious: Chapter 3, A.N.T. Farm), in an attempt to scare her out of cheating with her husband Justin, played by Sam Page (House of Cards, Switched at Birth). Sabrina gets her sister Paige, portrayed by Amelia Rose Blaire (True Blood, Angels in Stardust), to help.
Sabrina ties Allie to a chair in the attic and tells Paige they will let her go after scaring her. When Justin returns unexpectedly from a canceled business trip, things begin to go awry. Blood, broken bones, and stabbing ensues.
The film is dominated by Anna Camp’s performance as Sabrina. She is a master of manipulation, using charm, guilt, threats, tears, or fear as needed. She makes Hannibal Lecter look like a wallflower.
One cares about the characters. Allie, she’s not really a bad girl, and Paige who becomes victimized by her sister. The film does not really build in suspense. Once Justin unexpectedly returns home, it reaches a plateau and maintains a certain manic scariness driven by Camp’s character. The film does come to a satisfying conclusion.
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” a slight misquotation of English poet William Congreve, could have been the tagline for comedy-short Shevenge. Director Amber Benson, alumnus of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lets us share in the fantasies of three ladies who see themselves as victims of the men they hang out with.
The ladies, played by Emme Rylan (General Hospital, The Young and the Restless), Jessica Sherif, her first film, and Megan Lee Joy (Here Build Your Homes), sequentially reveal their fantasies and play a part in each other’s visions of shevenge. Men are, of course, tied up.
But, these are only fantasies. Or are they?
The film effectively uses a selective color technique for some of the scenes. For instance, when Sherif’s boyfriend fights back and bloodies her nose, the rest of the visual is in black and white and only the blood is red.
The screenplay was by David Greenman (Bones, About Last Night). Joy and Sherif helped with the story.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but in this comedy short we see that the old dog, played by Joe Spano (Hill Street Blues, NCIS), still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and probably several other places.
The film contains some vignettes of the young magician performing. We see him on the Ed Sullivan Show and hear perhaps the worst Ed Sullivan impersonation in all history. None the less, it’s fun.
I was pleasantly haunted by the music for the film. I was sure I knew it. I asked the filmmaker and was delightfully surprised to find it was the theme from Captain Kangaroo, a kids’ show which ran from 1955-1992, of which in my first decade of life I was a devotee. Some music gets in your head and never leaves.
Written and directed by Theodore M. Buckwald, Old Tricks was shown as part of the Future Filmmakers Showcase which features the work of high school students from across the country and around the world.
You can view the film here.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0046XG48O,B00LPPIAZG,B008JFUUIA,B00GSTHCHQ,B00UHAJ24S]