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.