Monday, August 1, 2016

Curve (2015)

“Curve” is “The Hitcher” meets “127 Hours.” “The Hitcher” aspect comes from Mallory Rutledge (Julianne Hough) being stalked by a hitchhiker, Christian Laughton (Teddy Sears). He seems sweet and innocent at first, helping her fix her broken-down jeep and giving her therapy in regard to her flailing relationship with her fiancé. Then he turns on a dime, making wildly inappropriate sexual remarks and pulls a knife on her. He demands she drive to an abandoned motel where she will eventually meet her demise. Instead, she drives the jeep off a cliff in the hopes of maiming her captor.

Mallory winds up maiming herself, entrapped in her overturned jeep. This is where the “127 Hours” aspect comes into play. Mallory’s leg is trapped between the car door and the tree branch keeping it shut. Her only way of escape is to saw off her leg, which Christian finds wickedly amusing. He made it out of the crash unscathed and is enjoying his target’s anguish. He gets off on his victims’ misery, which is why he’d rather leave her hanging rather than kill her.

I was watching this movie with a friend and we both joked that she should’ve driven off the cliff. This is one of those cases where the movie responds to your request accordingly, and, in Mallory’s case, one of those times when it shouldn’t have. Of course, we suggested she jump out of the car as she drove it off the cliff, so the movie didn’t completely listen to us. Though if it did, it would’ve been over rather quickly. That or it would’ve been a run-of-the-mill cat and mouse thriller in which the hitchhiker would stalk Mallory through the desert.

It’s because of the unique angle the film takes that it works. The arrival to Mallory’s deadly predicament may have been rocky, but it was worth the ride for the destination. Suspense is built wonderfully over whether or not she’ll saw her leg off. If and when she does, there’s still the issue of where she’s going to go for help. The film relies on claustrophobia for its thrills, and Iain Softley’s tight direction reinforces that.

Then there’s the looming Christian, who comes and goes to taunt Mallory. While this could come across as a cheap tactic, it’s written in a way that’s cleverly suspenseful. Kimberly Lofstrom Johnson & Lee Patterson write Christian as unhinged, making sure his unpredictability is always in question. We know the only reason he doesn’t just kill Mallory is because of his affinity for torment, yet we also know that he can snap at any moment. We question how long until he grows tired of playing with Mallory and just offs her.

The film is incredibly well-paced! Softley rightfully slows things down in the middle to highlight Mallory’s plodding agony. He knows just when to speed things up, with a finale that is slightly over-the-top yet satisfying. The only snag he runs into is a scene in which Christian creepily asks Mallory about her first sexual experience. It’s meant to be unsettling, showcasing Christian’s uncomfortable proclivities and Mallory’s willingness to conform to the situation in order to survive, yet it comes off as too corny. It probably read better than it played out on screen.

“Curve” is a taut little thriller! A bumpy one at times, but never without intrigue. A smart script and compact direction guides the suspense suitably.

MVT: Johnson & Lee’s script. While Softley’s direction is strong, he wouldn’t have had a good grip without a smart script to back him up.

Make or Break: The scene in which Christian abandons the entrapped Mallory. It sets the mood and perfectly captures Christian’s lunacy and Mallory’s plight.

Final Score: 7.75/10

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