Friday, November 26, 2010

DVDebut: Survival thriller DEADFALL TRAIL premieres via GoDigital Media Group

In these times of great change in the way we're watching movies, it's always a pleasure to welcome a new film distributor to the mix, so let's hear a loud shout for the GoDigital Media Group -- whose first film (that TrustMovies has seen, at least) DEADFALL TRAIL is premiering now. TM would recommend not viewing the trailer for this film, however, because it represents the movie as something -- a fast-paced, violent, bloody and perhaps more-intelligent-than-usual thriller about survival -- to which the film itself does not rise. Indeed, the occasional violence and blood do pop up, but the film is extremely slow-paced and not, perhaps, as intelligent as it would like to be. Had he not seen that trailer and consequently expected something rather different, TM might have accepted the movie on its own terms a little more easily and enjoyed it more heartily.

Trailers these days are generally to be avoided, as they ruin a film either by mis-representing it or by showing you all the best parts so that, when you finally see it, you have that gnawing sense of déjà vu. Directed and co-written by the one-moniker moviemaker Roze (shown at right), the film does have some good things going for it: three decent leading men, attractive and believable in their relatively well-defined roles -- along with dialog that's also believable and not overly-expository. The movie's initial pacing is relaxed and smart, too, and as the three meet and go off into the "wilds" of Arizona -- I guess to prove their mettle and maybe to try to outshine one another -- we settle in for some fun and scares.

Once into the wilderness, problems pop up, some of which we could see coming from the short intro we get to each of the three men, others created by the clash of personalities of these guys, well-played by the three actors. Most impressive is Shane Dean, as Julian, below, shown in one of his out-of-body (not to mention mind and clothes) experiences,

...while Cavin Gray Schneider (below) is the relatively untutored sweetie-pie of the group, Paul, who manages with aplomb both innocence and the rather immediate necessity-to-learn.

Slade Hall (shown below in bad make-up), playing John, the friend to both men who arranges their unfortunate meeting, has the least of the roles, for reasons that will become clear midway.

Other than the unfortunate pacing of the movie -- slow, slower, slowest -- a number of other problesm crop up. Roze has broken his film down into title cards that read Day 1, Day 2, and so forth. We're starting to grow restless well before we reach Day 9 or 10 -- and trust me, there are a lot more days to come. Then our questions start popping up. Why the hell would John even bring Paul on this trip? What are these guys doing for food? (We see them scrounging for water, including the old Waterworld standby, urine-sipping, and though they eat a bug or two and kill a rodent and -- as I recall -- a rabbit, this in no way convinces. A little catching-our-meals montage along the way would have come in quite handy.)

There also a question of why teeth, particularly those of Mr. Schneider, are so very bright throughout. I know actors want to look good, but isn't it up to the director to yell, "Cut! -- and get some dirt on those dentures." This may seem nitpicking, but the movie's slow pacing gives one plenty of time to pick. A peyote trip? Just now? And what happened to that wild boar, for which the signature trap (and the movie's big event) is set up?  Finally, the suspense is not helped by a seemingly endless, back-and-forth, "who's-on-top?" countdown to the finale.

The ending is actually a good one, taking the film into new territory, yet the movie will have probably lost you long before. Which is a shame because there's some interesting stuff here -- but in the way that it is linked, and in some of those all-important details, things simply do not add up.

Available now for sale via Amazon and elsewhere but not apparently ready for rental at either Netflix or Blockbuster (you can "save" it at the former site, but the latter seems never to have heard of the movie), Deadfall Trail will also be, the distributor tells us, premiering digitally via iTunes in mid-to-late December.


Anonymous said...

PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD, which TrustMovies reviewed in October, is also distributed by GoDigital Media.

Anonymous said...

i really like this movie up untill John got hurt and the julian killed him i figured that John would and paul would be the ones that lived. but over everything that has happened in the movie it was good.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anonymous #2 -- I am glad somebody out there who saw this movie took the time to comment on it.