Stephen Lang has “Avatar 2,” “3” and “4” coming up. So he’s got that going for him.
Meanwhile, he’s got at least two more C-pictures of his post-“Don’t Breathe” thriller career slated to arrive before “Avatar: The Way of Water” decorates cinemas this holiday season.
“Old Man,” the first of them, is typical of what’s been offered Lang in recent years. He has the descriptive title role, a longjohn-wearing hermit living in an a mountainside shack in the Knoxville corner of Appalachia, a demented paranoid who calls out for his missing dog, and has a stranger knock on his door instead.
What follows in this Joel Veach screenplay is an interminable interrogation, a question and answer session taking place inside that cabin, pierced by the occasional flashback.
Wherever this is going, whatever the “reasons” for having this chat sound and play the way it does, nothing excuses the inane, fingernails-on-a-blackboard verbiage coming out of Long and co-star Marc Senter’s mouths.
The paranoid “Old Man” recalls another stranger at his door, a Bible salesman (Patch Darragh). As he holds his latest hostage at shotgun point, he tells him the tale of capture, questioning and torture, perhaps the fate facing this young married hiker named “Joe.”
“I drugged him.” “You drugged him?” ” Yes I did.” “With what?” “I don’t actually remember. Must be here somewhere.”
“What’s the difference between poisoning and drugging?” “I don’t know, one is sinister and the other isn’t!”
“So you drugged him…”
And on and on this line of questioning goes, the most stunningly repetitious and reductive dialogue I’ve heard in a motion picture screenplay in years.
“I tied him to the stove.” “You tied him on the stove?” “No, that would be too cruel and crazy. I tied him TO the stove.”
And “The Cherokees had a story about The Purple Lake…”
“The Purple Lake?”
Here we go again.
Like David Mamet and the Ancient Greeks, Veach figures dialogue’s got to be repetitious. Only his has no rhyme or rhythm to it, Mamet’s trademark.
Director Lucky McKee is here for the violence — mostly in flashbacks. Perhaps Veach talked him into the idea that the “twist” everybody with a pulse sees coming is explanation enough for how maddening this drivel is to listen to.
As for Lang, the “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals” veteran has only 65 days, as I write this, for A-picture salvation to arrive. Let’s hope James Cameron hasn’t lost his mojo, for Lang’s sake.
Rating: unrated, violence
Cast: Stephen Lang, Marc Senter and Patch Darragh
Credits: Directed by Lucky McKee, scripted by Joel Veach. An RLJE release.
Running time: 1:38