Based on Het Gouden Ei by Tim Krabbé
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, Nancy Travis, Sandra Bullock
Budget $23M Box Office $14,543,394
IMDb 6.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 47% Metacritic 49/100
The other day, I caught an old 90s psychological thriller on TV. I’ve seen the movie many times so I didn’t have to see it from the beginning to know what was going on at the time I came in on it. This truly is a movie that I watched as a kid and have remembered very well, even to this day.
The gist of the story is a boyfriend and girlfriend, Jeff and Diane (almost sounds like a John Mellencamp song) are road tripping, she goes missing and he spends the next three years trying to find her…unsuccessfully. During this time, he tries to forge a new romance with a new woman, Rita. Yet, in the background, he still maintains a stringent search for Diane…unbeknownst to Rita. It creates lies and problems and of course, they split.
Then, just as Jeff has seemingly lost everything and all his hope, the man who took Diane appears at his front door and offers him all the answers he has been seeking. With one condition. He must experience everything exactly as Diane experienced it, then he will know what happened to her.
Now, I find no need to tell you any more than that about the actual details of the plot. However, the psychology behind the film is so twisted and out there, it’s like Jigsaw before there was Saw, only with a twist.
This guy, the bad guy, Barney, he’s all about philosophy, okay? He likes to prove things to himself. Like when he was fifteen, he wanted to prove he had the courage to jump off the balcony of his house, so he did. And it made him proud. He claims psychologically that prepped him to jump from a dock hanging out over a lake and save a little girl from drowning. Now, I personally don’t know anyone that can swim that wouldn’t jump off the dock to save a little girl in a LAKE from drowning, not like it’s the ocean. But, in his mind, he makes it this big ordeal about how his daughter thinks he’s a hero and that made him feel guilty because he didn’t know if he was really deserving of his daughter’s love.
This is where we get all philosophical, or well, Barney does at least. He needs to know if he is as capable of evil as he is of heroism. That in itself seems like a jacked-up reason to hurt someone. But he thinks this will make somehow a more complete human being, a kindred spirit as he chooses to sort of describe it. In theory, you can’t have one without the other. If you believe in one, you kinda have to believe in the other. Good can’t exist without evil. It’s like having light without dark or wet without dry. One state can’t exist without the presence of the other.
So, Barney wants to know if he’s a complete human or just a big ol’ softy that cares about others and lives right and contributes to society…oh wait, that’s most normal human beings, that’s right, I forgot for a second. Apparently though, being average, being normal, being like everyone else isn’t good enough for Barney. William Shakespeare wrote, “Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.” So many people crave to be outwardly special, possess some special talent, have some special gift, something that sets them apart from everyone else. What they fail to realize is that we are all unique.
Unfortunately, being inwardly unique wasn’t enough for Barney. He had a wife who loved him and was devoted to him, he had a thirteen-year-old daughter that thought he was a God, he had a nice job, lovely house. What’s not worth having in that??? Most people, most normal people that is, that would be enough.
But, then there’s Jeff. The inability to accept not knowing is truly an American thing, in my opinion. We as Americans (the current times are a perfect example) will do damn near anything we are told as long as we are told WHAT and WHY. Americans LOVE the WHY. We require explanation, detail, information. As time wears on through the years, we seem to require more explanation than we used to (kind of worries me just a tad). We also seem to have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea of “I don’t know”. I mean, even as human beings, it’s hard for many when asked about religion or faith to not have SOMETHING they cling to. It’s a scary thought to a lot of people that things just happen unexplained and for no reason. That there might not be an afterlife, that once you are dead, that’s it, you’re dead. People fear the unknown. And in absence of actual information they will grasp at whatever makes them feel safe and secure.
And as Americans and just plain human beings, we want answers. And Jeff, well, he just can’t seem to get his life together after Diane disappears. If he had found her dead or something, that would be different, but he has no idea what happened to her, she was there and then, she wasn’t. Jeff just can’t stomach that. No matter how hard he tries, even with Rita at his side he is still willing to give up everything for the opportunity to go back those three years and find out everything that happened to Diane.
Just think about that, I’ve lost people to things uncertain and certainly unexplained, and I can’t say that I would give up the life I’ve built to go back in time to get that one answer. I don’t think my loved ones would want that for me either. That strikes me as so entirely self-absorbed. It’s like Jeff thinks he’s the only person to ever lose someone without answers. It’s like he doesn’t realize that he’s destroying not only his life, but others.
And Rita. Poor, poor Rita. She loves Jeff so much and she’s lived through so much that she just doesn’t know how to give up. Talk about a fighting soul. This chick is hard core deep down inside. Jeff doesn’t really know it, but he’s no match for Rita and her resolve. And neither is Barney.
If you want to know how it all comes together, you’ll have to watch the movie.
Directed and Written by
Ed Asner as Dr. Howard Arden
Melinda Page Hamilton as Abbey Bell
Julian de la Celle as Greg
Bailey Edwards as Jacob Bell
Janet Ulrich Brooks as Nana Millie
Note***This film is so new that budget, box office and rating information is not yet available. The film’s theatrical premiere release date was March 13. So, keep that in mind while you are reading this because I am not going to be giving a whole lot away.
I was lucky. I got sent a screener of this movie to watch and review for you guys. From the trailer I saw, I was excited to see it and thought it had a lot of potential to be a really good flick. My only concern was that it was in that kind of home movie/found footage style and sometimes I have a hard time with those films. But I still wanted to give it a shot regardless because of the plot. Here’s what got my attention enough to watch the trailer.
“A distraught mother (Hamilton) suspects her teenage son (Edwards) is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. After installing an elaborate spy camera system in their home, Abbey captures a series of disturbing videos that confirm her worst fears.
Torn between a mother's unconditional love and a mother's acute intuition, Abbey caters her videos to all the other "mothers of monsters" online. Abbey's plan backfires when Jacob uses a dark family secret against her, launching both mother and son on a terrifying, and ultimately deadly, game of cat and mouse.”
Right?!?! How can that NOT sound interesting to a horror fan??? I mean, that should appeal to the very core of the fiber of our being! So, I had to watch it.
Now, what we really see here is a truly desperate single mom, who is at her wits end, making video diary entries of her daily life experiences and video recordings of her son’s behavior, abuse towards her and his escalation of the two in addition to his anger and poor coping skills.
This poor woman, Abbey, is a 42-year-old single mom and she just can’t seem to communicate with her 16-year-old son, Jacob. She’s worried about him. She’s scared for him. She’s scared OF him. So, scared in fact that she installs hidden spy cameras all over the house. When Jacob is gone, she searches his room (Any teens reading this??? Yes, your parents know way more about the shit you’re doing than you think they do).
Abbey seems truly terrified. She records these videos as warnings to the other moms out there. She’s alone and afraid. She feels like there’s no one to turn to, no one to help her. These videos she’s making, collecting, they are also, in my opinion, a way of talking through the things she’s going through.
Jacob, on the other hand. Jacob is the typical rude, hateful, mouthy, ungrateful, entitled teenager…kicked up a few hundred notches. He yells and screams at Abbey, cusses at her, calls her names, insults her, plays mean tricks on her. He treats her like she’s his mortal enemy at times. It’s amazing how he talks to her.
Needless to say, their relationship is anything but warm and loving, nurturing and caring. Their relationship overflows with toxicity and negativity. And no matter what kind of approach she tries, Abbey just can’t seem to get a handle on things. Jacob makes even the simplest of things, like having a conversation, practically impossible.
Abbey is very worried that Jacob is going to end up hurting SOMEONE. Maybe even her. She’s voiced these concerns, even to the police, which is hard as a parent, to turn your own child into the police, but it didn’t do any good. She is basically told he’s fine and to move on.
Things between Jacob and Abbey continue to spiral out of control as Jacob finds out about certain things here and there until Abbey is in true fear for her life. It’s getting extremely tense and time is of the essence. He’s got her backed into a corner and everything she does makes him mad or frustrated or worse. It’s decision time for Abbey. She’s going to have to make a choice.
I really, really enjoyed this film. Like I said before, I was worried about the film style but it actually worked great for this movie.
I thought that Bailey Edwards was exceptional with his part. He definitely made it easy to hate a bratty 16-year-old. He expertly splashes the screen with the overflowing teenage angst and deep anger and rebellion a lot of us remember feeling at that age. (Remember how EVERYTHING was the end if the world and life and death at that age?)
And Melinda Page Hamilton was superb. Her portrayal of this mom who thinks her son may be a school shooter or a family annihilator is completely believable and totally brilliant. You see the fear in the red rims of her eyes, the anguish and desperation from crying, all caught in her eyes as she makes her videos.
There was definitely, without question, an eeriness within the film. Not so much in the beginning, but as the movie gets going you really feel the anxiety build along side Abbey as she gets more stressed and scared. It’s not really a suspenseful feeling, but it’s for real creepy and sinister. I have to say, with all my education and research, all the true crime videos I have seen on true crime shows, this duo really does seem to nail the psychological aspects of both sides of this troubled mother/son relationship. That's exactly why I found this so creepy and disturbing.
My only complaint is this…during the entire movie I could hear a low vibrate, two short buzzes at a time, like cell phone on vibrate. It’s like someone working on editing sound or something had their phone on silent and it was getting blown up throughout the making of the whole movie. I don’t know if it was accidental or part of some soft and slight background noise I didn’t fully pick up on (I have a slight hearing loss in both ears), but it was really weird. That buzz may actually have something to do with the eerie feeling. It’s what happens when your body responds to stimuli you can’t see…basically. There’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic gist.
So, other than that, I loved the movie. And I do hope you guys take the time to check this one out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.