It starts out with Claire just staring mindlessly at the TV. She is clearly a little hefty, but based on later shots, she is seems to have been de-glammed even more for these shots — like an overweight Chloe from 24.
The camera slowly zooms in on the other woman’s face so intensely, and the way she refuses to avert her gaze or be embarrassed at being busted, it leads you to think there are going to be some fangs-a-poppin’ soon. In fact, through-out the credits we continue to see them humping — is Claire still watching? Why does the woman frequently look directly at the camera? Is Claire still there? No, so it is just baffling.
After a gratuitous, yet welcome cry, demurely naked in the shower, she tells her best friend she is moving home to Chicago. Her friend thinks the move is irrational and says, “When Steve and I broke up, I lost like 20 pounds.” Suddenly this breakup sounds very rational for Claire to me.
On her way to Chicago, a 3-day drive, she pulls into an Interstate Rest Stop which is as disgusting as an Interstate Rest Stop (although not as bad as Rest Stop). It is plenty disturbing with a crazy woman sitting on the filthy floor, and disgusting stalls. As soon Claire finds one tolerable enough to take a seat in, the crazy woman bangs on the door screaming, “Got any toilet paper?” That’s enough for Claire to hold it in for a few more miles, but later realizes she has lost her phone in the rest room — so that is trope is taken care of.
If the day can’t get any worse, her car gets a flat tire (maybe) and she coasts to the side of the road. She opens the trunk and unloads the 3 boxes that she apparently brought into this relationship. Then she opens the hood. So it’s not clear what is wrong with the car. She does, however, take this opportunity to pee shielded by the car — standing up, I might add.
She flags down a car, and we learn that the car just stalled. Creepy guy Gus stops and she accepts a ride with him to town for a hotel and mechanic. Gus at least gets her to Eddie’s Garage without killing her, so that’s good.
While Eddie is towing her car back, she falls asleep and this time flashes back to catching her boyfriend cheating again. This time, he is on top of the woman — how the hell long did she watch? Or are these just obsessive little hallucinations she’s having? Maybe that’s why the other woman always has a bra on.
Her timing belt is shot and will cost $600 to fix. She reluctantly but blatantly offers herself to Eddie in exchange for a discount, but he graciously offers to not charge for Labor or the Tow — so, what a swell guy. Their paths cross again in the local bar where the mechanic, the bartender and every customer is somehow menacing. Especially the one who slipped the rufie into her drink while she was making a call at the last pay-phone in America.
She wakes up in the garage gagged and tied to a chair. When she won’t answer a few simple questions, he takes a Zippo to her fingers. He unties her hands and hands her a knife. He tells her to pretend her leg is her cheating husband, and STAB herself — and that if she doesn’t do a sufficient job, he’ll stab the other one. So there’s a chance this guy might be crazy.
He makes her wipe all the make-up off her face. Then he cuts her hair. After she dips her fingers in acid to remove the nail polish, she pretends to like him and appreciate his beauty tips, fearing a waxing is next.
She does seduce him into untying her, and her plan is working out pretty well until an ill-timed visit by the gruff but lovable Gus, just checking up on the girl he helped earlier. Things don’t go so well for Gus, but Claire has time to grab a mallet and start pounding away at Eddie. What happens next is an interesting twist on a couple of horror tropes, worthy of not being spoiled.
My expectations started out very low as Ashley James did not seem to be much of an actress. I think part of this was due to the constantly underestimated importance of sound recording in a movie. Also, over the past year, I’ve noticed a lot of actresses that are mediocre in simple dialogue scenes, but can really bring it when the action and emotions ramp up.
As writer-director, Megan Freels pretty much gets the blame or credit for everything — this is her joint. Story-wise, it was nothing original, but did take an unusual turn at the end which I appreciated. It was effectively scored with nice track that followed her, but did not get insane when the action did — and no stingers!
The casting also worked, especially with Ashley James as a woman who was not classically beautiful and had a few extra pounds, but also was pretty enough to think 3 years ago maybe she had a shot in Hollywood. Some of the local folk were a little over-the-top, but who doesn’t love creepy small-town folk suspicious of a new single woman passing through.
My only very minor criticism of Ms. Freels — girl loves her close-ups. It seems like I was constantly noticing that the camera was pushed in so close that the tops of heads were lopped off (and not in the good way).
But if that is the only thing I can complain about, it’s a success. Well-produced, well-performed proof that you can make a simple but effective movie on the cheap. I was never once bored.
- Title Analysis: At first I didn’t get it, but ultimately, I connected the multiple meanings. Nice touch.
- It always bothers me that people on screen almost never sweat when being tortured. I don’t know why that would necessarily occur, but it seems like it would happen. Also, characters are usually way too blase when a limb is chopped off.
- Megan Freels is the grand-daughter of Elmore Leonard. The only thing I ever read of his is Fire in the Hole, a collection of short stories which I remember being very good. Of course, him being universally revered, who gives a shit what I think?
-  Creepy Guy being defined as a guy who doesn’t look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt, yet has the audacity to speak to a woman out of his league.