Childhood friends from Boston drift apart following a shocking discovery deep in the woods of Savin Hill.
John Beaton Hill, the director of “The Wolves of Savin Hill”, is undoubtedly heavily influenced by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino as several times throughout his movie, we have some groovy 1970s songs which accommodate scenes of violence and mayhem. This is also Mr. Hill’s directorial debut and as it’s his first movie, I wish I could cut him some slack but as an indie filmmaker myself for over 30 years, I know only too well, when you produce a movie, big-budget, low-budget or no-budget and present it for the world to see, some may like it, some may not and unfortunately, the latter falls in with me.
The movie tells the story of two men, Tom (David Cooley) and Sean (Brian Scannell), adults who have been best friends since childhood living back in Boston. Currently living in L.A., Tom is an ex-con while Sean is a cop, albeit, a dirty one. When Sean’s wife Emily (Tiprin Mandalay) mysteriously dies, Tom sticks up for him and tells everyone around them that he loved her and would never have caused her any harm but after Sean brings him in on a heist that goes wrong and Tom is apprehended and sent away to prison, he slowly begins to doubt that Sean was ever a friend and plots his revenge. The movie also cuts back in time to when both men were young kids and they found the dead body of a local girl in a quarry.
Did Sean kill her too? Did he really kill Emily as well? In the end, it really doesn’t matter because the story is so tortuous and overly complicated that about half way through, you literally stop caring about anyone and everything. In terms of acting, the entire cast spends about 90% of the movie shouting at each other when normal conversation would have sufficed. Seriously, we cut from one scene of Tom and his wife Kate (Suzanne Willard) at the airport screaming at each other while carrying on a seemingly normal conversation and then we cut to Emily in her car with her daughter Sara (Jordan Van Vranken) who initially start off the scene talking normally but by the end, they are ranting and raving at each other for no apparent reason.
Sean spends most of the movie driving around in his car frowning and I guess this is supposed to signal genuine emoting but anybody can sit in a car and look sullen and pass it off as ‘acting’. If there’s no legitimate portrayal of a tortured soul, which I’m guessing is the motive here, then the audience cannot connect with the character and the director’s vision has failed. Sean spends half of the movie thinking back to when he and Tom were kids and we see supposed old film footage of them playing together as children and the movie cuts to this on a constant basis and after the second flashback, it becomes tiring really fast.
I get it! He’s remembering when his life was not a mess and things were good but I don’t need flashback after flashback to the exact same footage to get the point across, one recollection would have been satisfactory. Also, Sean never gives the impression that he is sorry for the bad things he has done so the constant flashbacks serve no other purpose than to annoy the viewer. If he showed some sign of genuine guilt, then maybe it might have worked but we see a man who has done bad things and continues to do them with no discernible hint of remorse so why should we care about him in the least?
Most of the acting from beginning to end feels forced and contrived and not in the least bit realistic. Only Jack McGee and Kurt Fuller in short-lived cameos elevate the movie but only briefly as once they’re gone, the movie sinks back into conventional. I give the film’s director Mr. Hill kudos for getting out there and actually producing a movie but instead of concentrating on terrible out-of-focus shots, horrendous handheld camera techniques and endless scenes of people glowering and scowling, next time, focus on story development and character exposition and employ actors who can actually give a real performance, not the impression that they’re doing so. Then, you’ll have a great movie.