Monday, February 1, 2016

Film Review: Curve (2015)

Curve (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"There wasn't enough to make it a good film, but it was enough to make it engaging until the end."

Mallory (Julianne Hough) is on her way to Denver for her wedding rehearsals. When her car breaks down, she finds herself in the company of a charming hiker, Christian (Teddy Sears), who harbors some sinister intentions...

Curve is a fairly basic film. The film begins with a phone call between Mallory and her sister, essentially spelling everything out. (One of the first lines of dialogue is "Hey, sister." I don't know, I never answer my brother's calls and say, "Hey, brother." You get the gist.) Anyway, Mallory drives off and decides to take the scenic route. Her car breaks down and charming hitchhiker Christian comes to the rescue, so she offers him a ride. Unfortunately for Mallory, Christian has other intentions – violent intentions. So, noticing Christian isn't wearing his belt, she drives off a curve. She ends up trapped in the overturned car while Christian tauntingly roams freely. Most of the 'story,' which isn't much, follows Mallory as she attempts to survive the harsh conditions, starvation, and dehydration. It switches up for the final act, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. The ending was painfully generic, though.

I didn't think Curve was a bad film. The story leaves much to be desired, but it wasn't bad. Although some dialogue was bad, there were some tense exchanges here and there. I wish there were more, but I'll take what I can get. There were also some tense survival scenes. If you hate rats, you might squirm a bit. It can be a bit slow at times, particularly because the narrative is very thin, but it has its moments. I was never at the edge-of-my-seat or terrified (I'm not sure why this film is categorized as a horror movie), but I was engaged throughout most of the movie. So, it get points for often being decent and at least being tolerable enough to complete. Unfortunately, it also has some glaring flaws, which stop it from being good.

The most obvious flaw: the poor plot contrivances. Now, convenience isn't automatically bad in a film, but when the plot contrivances are this blatant, it's disappointing. There are scenes where you'll scream: "Why would you do that?!" If you're more frustrated by the ineptitude of characters, you'll probably yell: "Are you stupid?!" There's a scene in this film where Mallory obtains a phone while trapped and she's armed with a knife, but, by some miracle, she loses her only opportunity to call for help because someone conveniently called while Christian was around – this scene is way too blatant. There are a few similar scenes like this towards the end. It would seem most people would rather hear the sound of their voice in the presence of danger than run or finish the job. Aside from contrived storytelling, which was infuriating, the narrative is lacking in character depth, it is oddly paced, and it is generic.

The acting wasn't too bad, though. Teddy Sears was good as the charming antagonist. Although his character was cliché, Sears deliver his performance with conviction. Julianne Hough wasn't half-bad. Her screechy voice can be a tad bit annoying, but her performance wasn't horrible. The film is shot well enough. There are some bad angles here, but nothing that will hurt your eyes. The music blended well with the film. Curve is written by Kimberly Lofstrom Johnson and Lee Patterson and directed by Iain Softley. The film's biggest issues are the contrived storytelling and the refusal to take chances, which is a burden on both the writers and director. I'm not saying the film must be 100% original to be good, but it should have personality. In this form, Curve feels like every other survival film with a strong female lead.

Overall, Curve is a mediocre film. I wasn't a big fan of the film from the first phone call ("Hi, sister." Seriously, who talks like that?), but there was some serious potential here. There were strong moments sprinkled throughout this film. There wasn't enough to make it a good film, but it was enough to make it engaging until the end. If this film had taken more chances with its dialogue and scenario, it really would have been good – I sincerely believe that. In its current form, it's just a generic thriller about a woman fighting for survival. If you like the concept, you might enjoy this a bit more.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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