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Stars: Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley, John Lynch, Stephen Moyer

Director: Christopher Smith

Even though it's not completely a success, this is a thoroughly interesting noir in 1970s style. Full of split screens, the film examines parallel scenarios, which may finally blend (or is it bleed?) into one.

Law student Harper (Sheridan) pays nightly visits to his mother in hospital, where she lies in a coma after a car crash for which Harper blames his stepfather (Moyer). Getting drunk in a bar, he meets the dangerous-looking and loud-mouthed Johnny (Cohen) and vaguely talks of how much a 'hit' on his stepfather might cost.

The next morning, he finds Johnny and his hooker girlfriend (Powley) on his doorstep, and this is where the story splits into two: in one possible outcome, the trio heads to Vegas where Johnny, deeply in debt to a gangster (Lynch) intends to carry out his 'assignment'.

In the other story, Harper stays at home and ends up knifing his stepfather to death in a fight.

At times, it seems that events from one scenario are being inserted into the other, and I got confused as to whether two bodies, one living, could be in the boot of a car at the same time,

All the same, this is an edgily atmospheric and fascinating effort from the director, whose future work is awaited with, well, interest, even if this one doesn't provide complete satisfaction.

Incidentally, the original 1940s crime classic of the same title is briefly shown on the TV screen of Harper's home.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Bulldog Films. Colour by Metrodol.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 21 May 2017