Movie Review: Mother, Daughter and the local teens — Who is the most “Twisted?”

“Twisted” is a lukewarm, slow-walking thriller built around a co-dependent relationship between a widowed mother and her troubled, introverted teen daughter.

It’s not helped along its merry way by clumsy plotting, slack direction and stiff performances, which seem more amateurish the further away from the leads that you get. But you can see the promising seeds that gave birth to it, even if they weren’t nurtured all the way to harvest.

Hannah (Madeleine Masson of “Karma”) is 18, trying to find direction, focus and love in a rural town in the timbered far west. Her mother Silvia (Karen Leigh Sharp), dotes on her to the point of clinging. She expects this devotion to be reciprocated. Mom wants a backrub after a hard day working as a doctor in the local clinic.

Is that Mom spying on Hannah as she meets her new beau for a little make-out session under the underpass? And Dr. Mom can get downright crude when questioning her daughter’s sex life.

“I don’t know how many snakes you’ve invited into your cave!”

Lonely Hannah’s making some sketchy friends at school. Raven (Lexy Ronning) and Victor (Joshua Malekos) are awfully keen on getting her to “come hunting” with them. That’ll entail sneaking out and making out, and a bit of drinking as they have fun with firearms and shoot mostly inedible wildlife, apparently for trophy mounting.

That “secret hunting society” means raccoon and pheasant gutting. Good times.

But when the guy Hannah claims she’s “not that close to” winds up dead, she finds herself questioned by law enforcement and having flashbacks to her childhood, which she turns into disturbing sketches for art class.

All that first act exposition and action points the viewer towards one conclusion, no matter how many other possible suspects are considered. The movie is about Hannah’s response to all this as she meanders through adolescence with questions about boys, conflicted loyalties and the seriously creepy vibe her hypodermic-happy mother (diabetes) puts out there.

There are night sequences in “Twisted” in which one can barely make out the action, and most every scene that’s meant to build tension and suspense just mopes by until the third act, where we get a taste of competently-handled action.

As I said, the leads are OK, but several supporting players don’t bring enough to the table to make their performances compelling or believable. But that may tie into pacing and filmmaking other issues which point straight at Danish writer-director Sofie Vibeke Muasya.

She did a little-seen kidnapping thriller, “Lost in Africa.” Was it better than this? Because the evidence from “Twisted” is that she’s not very good at the thriller basics, clear and concise storytelling or the craft of directing actors.

Rating: Unrated, graphic violence, sexual situations

Cast: Madeleine Masson, Karen Leigh Sharp, Joshua Malekos, Lexy Ronning

Credits: Scripted and directed by Sofie Vibeke Muasya. An Alarm Films release.

Running time: 1:25

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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