Erin Taylor, Sydney Vollmer, Patrick Johnston, Chris Dettone
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Movie Review: Cruel
There's never any doubt that writer/director Naim David's ultra-indie Cruel is influenced by 90's horror and grunge. The story centers around Ava (Erin Taylor), a young woman whose parents are viciously murdered. When the investigation goes nowhere and everyone is giving up, it gets left up to Ava to investigate the killings and discover the truth.
Cruel is, in fact, a rather unusual motion picture. While it's far from graphic, Cruel does have a dark tone about it with David's own lensing for the film weaving a tapestry of saturated hues and slightly off-kilter framing. Time and again over the course of the film's 70-minute running time, seemingly normal scenes are interrupted by violence that interrupts and disrupts. Music by Edward Grant also helps the proceedings along rather nicely.
Cruel's real strength lies in Erin Taylor's turn as Ava, a pleasing mixture of vulnerability and badassery. Sydney Vollmer is also solid as Ava's sister and Patrick Johnston is also particularly solid throughout.
It's not particularly surprising that Cruel struggles at times with production quality given it is a microcinema motion picture. For those unfamiliar, this typically means issues with the sound mix and/or lighting. In this case, there are definitely moments where the film's budgetary limitations are noticeable, however, there are also moments where David is able to accomplish something special. There's an intriguing little narrative going on here and it's fun watching it all come to life.
While Cruel is influencd by 90's horror, it's important to note that it's really more of a mystery/thriller. Gorehounds won't find much about the film pleasing, though those who can appreciate an engaging story will appreciate the unwinding mystery.
It will be interesting to see where David goes from here and it'll also be interesting to watch the up-and-coming Erin Taylor in the future.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic