“A Savage Nature” sets some sort of new slow-poke standard for thrillers, a lurching stiff with no pulse to speak of.
“Inspired by” a true home invasion a title tells us was in Virginia in August of 2007 (I can’t find evidence of this), it’s a twisty, twisted and theatrical melodrama about a waitress (Joanna Whicker), her deputy sheriff combat vet (Steve Polites) whose awkward anniversary celebration is interrupted by two thugs in a pickup (Jon Hudson Odom, Joseph Carlson).
It starts with a rough, grabby encounter in the diner where Beth (Whicker) works and escalates once the sheriff (Frank Riley III) roughs up the two when he spots them later.
That’s on the remote dead end dirt road where Beth and Pete live, and events conspire to put them all in that house, where everything is not what it seems and agendas are not necessarily what you’d expect.
The writing is often clumsy and unnatural, even when the thugs are reaching for laughs. On hearing Pete’s “in law enforcement,” one thug cracks “Looks like we’re in a complimentary field.” When said thug starts extemporizing on Socrates, it isn’t just the scripted mispronunciation of the Greek philosopher’s name that sounds wrong.
The “reasons” why characters seem guarded and wooden has an explanation, but that doesn’t begin to cover how slow-footed and creaky these performances are.
Surprises are no substitute for suspense and the lack of urgency in situations and character’s facing life-and-death peril never gives this film the chance to demonstrate its “Savage Nature.”
MPA Rating: unrated, violence and sex
Cast: Joanna Whicker, Steve Polites, Jon Hudson Odom, Joseph Carlson, Frank Riley III and Rayanne Gonzales
Credits: Directed by Paul Awad, script by Kathryn O’Sullivan and Paul Awad. A Gravitas Ventures release.
Running time: 1:22