“REBOUND” (Film Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
When it comes to independent filmmaking, the dynamic between the familiar and the fresh is always an important one to observe. In this sense, a film can be aware of the subversion it has made to specific expectations or genre tropes, but only after it has become cognizant that the audience should be familiar with the story or subject matter. It’s an odd narrative tug-o-war, yet one seemingly necessary for a majority of genre films, especially ones such as Megan Freels Johnston’s REBOUND.
For the unfamiliar, REBOUND follows an anxious woman who finds herself in an emotional and psychological row after discovering her long-term boyfriend was having an affair. In desperation, the woman plans a road trip to escape from her negative headspace, only to wind up in a much more vulnerable and terrifying position. Of course, the narrative itself is rather predictable; the tropes of the kidnapping genre appear here and there, even to a dumbfounding fault. That said, REBOUND does find some solid ground via performances and tension, especially in the latter half of the film, to make for a mostly-entertaining experience.
By design, REBOUND plays around with many familiar elements of the genre, whether it be the torture film, vacation horror and psychological horror, and unfortunately, the writing itself is rather hit-or-miss, especially towards the earlier sequences. Luckily, Johnston shows an innate understanding of the genre, and occasionally offers a refreshing refrain from those expectations; in fact, even the opening credits are set to a nightmarish depiction of the affair in action, using an impressively minimalist approach to the psychological horror of the act. And at its worst, REBOUND never quite descends into flat-out bad territory, but rather coasts along as merely pedestrian, leading to patches of forgettable or melodramatic moments throughout.
REBOUND is also technically adept, if not particularly captivating in execution. The cinematography by Stephen Tringali is competent and effective, seeping many of the environments into a greenish-yellow hue that sets a tone of unease, even if the shots themselves don’t create anything too visually engaging. The music from Michael Boateng works to a similar dynamic, providing standard audio cues for the narrative beats but never quite excelling to memorability. However, the one technical excellence on display is the editing from Eric Potter, which helps create a greater scope to the story while nailing down both continuity and fluid performances.
Speaking of performances, REBOUND does establish Johnston as a great “actor’s director,” despite occasionally spotty performances within the first half of the film. Ashley James is a solid lead for the film, bringing her all to a role with questionable motivation and a broad emotional canvas. Meanwhile, Mark Scheibmeir, while clearly planting the seeds for a villainous performance, really explodes onto the film in the latter half, providing a memorable and intimidating villain with flourishes of proprietorial misogyny. And Wes O’Lee also offers a memorable performance as Gus, a red herring who placates the paranoia of both the audience and the characters.
While REBOUND is in no position to be a classic of the genre, strong performances and an occasionally inspired direction leaves the film good enough to stand above many other contemporary films of its ilk. The film’s latter half more than makes up for the ho-hum first half, creating an atmosphere of tension that’s both entrancing and entertaining. And for a film made on the independent level, there’s an impressive sense of production value and scope, which definitely is a win with the much-traveled subject matter at hand.