Monte James, Anasia Obioha, Ryan Manuel, Tanya Karn, Chia Chen, Will Truong
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Movie Review: Easter Replacements
I'm a sucker for a solid indie drama and that's exactly what I get from writer/director Travis Grenke's Easter Replacements. It seems appropriate to tackle such a film on Palm Sunday and I'm sure glad I did. The film stars Monte James and Anasia Obioha as Billy and Bobby, a struggling married couple tasked with hosting Easter dinner for two other couples. However, when both couples back out at the last minute AND send replacements, the stage is set for this engaging, faith-tinged family drama.
With a dinner that seems destined to be a disaster, Easter Replacements becomes a compelling drama wrapped around interpersonal relationships, personal ethics, and conflicts both spoken and underlying. Much of the film's strength comes from the believable chemistry and tension existing between Billy and Bobby, Billy seemingly ready for this unexpected twist in his Easter dinner plans while Bobby would rather politely, or maybe not so politely, decline these unexpected guests. The two have a hard time finding a peaceful balance between their two honest yet rigid positions.
As Billy, Monte James gives the kind of performance that had me rushing over to IMDB to check out his filmography. He has a warm gravitas about his presence and I couldn't help but follow wherever he was going. James gives a terrific performance and I can especially see him finding a place in the faith-based film industry.
Anasia Obioha shines as the perpetually agitated Bobby. Obioha avoids caricature, humanizing a character who could have so easily become one-note. It's a blast watching Bobby's arc over the course of the film's 80-minute run time.
The rest of the film's ensemble is similarly strong with Tanya Karn particularly shining as Melanie, again doing a nice job of avoiding one-note caricatures, and Ryan Manuel, Chia Chen, and Will Truong all have strong moments to shine.
Lensing by Adam Beck is strong throughout and kudos must be given for Grenke's multi-layered, deceptively straightforward storytelling that takes some interesting twists and turns along the way.
Picked up by Indie Rights for a digital/VOD release, Easter Replacements is now available on most of your major streaming platforms including Tubi, Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, and others.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic