Allen Perada, Alonzo F. Jones, Ashton Blanchard
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
NR (Equiv. to "R")
Two men. One Plan. No mercy.
With Trap, his follow-up to the indie horror hit Edges of Darkness, writer/director Jason Horton takes his viewer into a world that may very well be even more horrifying than the horrific world of his last film, a world made ever more frightening because it is planted firmly in the soil of believability and possibility.
Walter (Allen Perada) is a recently released convict whose efforts to reunite with his only surviving relative, his daughter Tori (Annemarie Pazmino), are shunned. Instead, Tori hooks him up with a seemingly off-kilter younger thug, Franklin (Alonzo F. Jones), and the two agree to take delivery of 15-year-old kidnap victim Tennessee (Ashton Blanchard), until her ransom is paid.
It doesn't take long for friction to develop between Walter and Franklin, especially when Walter begins to fall for the enticing young Tennessee. The only question is "Does she really love him back or is this simply a ploy to get away from Franklin?"
Incorporating enough twists and turns along the way to constantly keep the viewer guessing, Horton avoids the usual pitfalls of low-budget indie thrillers by creating three richly drawn out characters who are, each in their own right, captivating and unforgettable. So often, filmmakers attempt to transcend their budgetary constraints with gimmicks and novelty. Horton directs with a sure hand, however, trusting his material to tell the story and his cast to make us buy into it.
While some may be tempted to consider Trap a horror film, to do so would be a mistake. At its very essence, Trap is a dark psychological thriller set in a world where the boundaries of ethics constantly fluctuate and where love can be a means to an end. Trap is "horror" only in the sense that this world truly exists, a world where crime is a part of daily life and where survival is by any means necessary. The film contains an almost uncomfortable degree of dark humor, humor that often arises out of the very extreme nature of the scenes unfolding.
Trap would not work without a stellar cast to bring it home, and Horton has assembled a fine trio of leads far exceeding that usually found in indie cinema.
Allen Perada is mesmerizing as Walter, a man whose edginess is apparently but balanced with a surprisingly sympathetic vulnerability. Yes, Walter is a hardened man but he is also a lonely one and Perada's scenes of humanity with the young Tennessee ache with the uncomfortable notion that this can't possibly end up well.
Likewise, Ashton Blanchard is stellar as the young kidnap victim whose intelligence and maturity far exceed her years. While it seems unfathomable that she could, in reality, have true feelings for Walter, Blanchard's performance is so nuanced and disciplined that one can never be completely sure who this young girl is and where she's taking us. Somewhat reminiscent of Ellen Page's turn in the unforgettable Hard Candy, it's never completely apparent here who is in control.
Finally, Alonzo F. Jones takes what seems like a straightforward character and makes him complex. At first glance, Franklin seems to be the film's straight up bad guy. However, Jones never allows Franklin to become a simple thug caricature and, instead, draws out a own slightly off-kilter, simmering beneath the surface portrayal.
Unlike most low-budget indies, the supporting players here are equally solid with particular kudos going to Annemarie Pazmino as Walter's meth-addicted daughter.
For a low-budget flick, production quality is surprisingly sturdy with Horton's camera work nicely intertwining the film's darker and lighter moments while Blaine Cade's production design complements the story nicely along with the costuming of Maxcy Priest. Special kudos to make-up artist Victoria Bradbury, who manages to create a rich authenticity for the characters that is often found lacking in microcinema. Horton also nicely blends in some delightful tunes along the way that will make you smile then immediately feel guilty about it.
Trap is currently available on DVD on Createspace, Amazon and at the Trap website. The DVD also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and Director's Commentary.
To call Trap entertaining would be inaccurate and, perhaps, even an insult. Trap is intense, thrilling, thought-provoking and more than a bit disturbing.
Sometimes, true horror exists in the world in which we live.
Trap is the real world.
Welcome to it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic