Whenever you watch a film where the kids are the main characters then you already know that the movie will be walking a tight rope. It can’t have the kids be too annoying but at the same time you know they aren’t tough enough to fight their way out of a situation so it means that you have to expect them to be sub par. Unfortunately the kids aren’t all that good although one of them is noticeably worse than the other. At the end of the day they hold the film back but there’s also a ton of plot conveniences around with all the characters making the worst decisions possible.
The movie starts with John’s father showing up and telling the kid where he hid a bunch of money. John is not supposed to ever tell anyone where it is including his mother. The cops then take this guy to jail. There he meets a villain named Harry who is really concerned with where the money is. The father is completely oblivious to life itself so even when Harry takes out his switchblade and makes obvious threats the guy decides to literally gag himself and close his eyes. Lets just say he doesn’t make it out of the cell alive. Harry manages to escape prison and heads over to John’s place.
Now I realize the film has barely begun but I do have some questions here. For starters I would say it is heavily implied that Harry at the very least tried using more extensive measures to make the Dad reveal where the money is. Apparently he didn’t crack since Harry doesn’t know but how would he get off for good behavior if there were signs of a struggle or if Harry flat out murdered the guy? Next I would assume he just escaped jail I guess but that’s iffy as well. I guess the easiest thing to accept is that he didn’t actually attack the father even though that is hard to buy.
So Harry goes into town and decides to quickly marry John’s mother Willa. Considering that her husband just died that rebound happened awfully fast. She quickly decides to believe everything he says even over her own kids. Now he’s in the catbird’s seat in terms of trying to get at the money. Can John really keep the secret of hwere the money is hidden? He’s a tough kid but the main problem is that his younger sister Pearl also knows where the money is and lets just say that she isn’t quite as subtle as he is. She has no real qualms with talking and spilling the beans.
Pearl definitely ends up being one of the most annoying characters in the film. She is constantly trying to break her promise to the father and threatening to say the secret just to spite John. Her worst scene though has to be in the climax after she knows for a fact that Harry is one of the villains. She still runs over to him and acts like he is the father. That was almost game over for John since Harry could have easily snatched them away. Pearl is young which is her main reason for being like this but that can only go so far.
Meanwhile John tries his best at least. I can’t say I’m a big fan of his either though. It’s hard to say exactly what he could have done differently for part of the film though. For the most part he made the right decision, it’s just that the villain is a lot more powerful than him. He does completely crack at the end of the film which is unfortunate though. just holding strong for a few more minutes would have been good. The imagery played up on his past traumas which is why he cracked.
So as much as I didn’t like the kids…they were kids so they have an excuse. Willa has no such excuses though. So this guy shows up at the town and she is ready to marry him in a day? She knows absolutely nothing about him so this is really suspicious. The guy mentions knowing her husband in jail so wouldn’t that be an even bigger red flag since everyone knows something happened to the money. Additionally John doesn’t like him from the start but Willa doesn’t pay him any heed and goes through with the whole thing anyway. That was pretty bad.
Her final scene has to be her worst moment though. I mean, there’s lots to choose from like Harry immediately treating her coldly and like a child during their honey moon. In this scene though she saw him yelling/threatening her kids and decides to dismiss this. She realizes now that for sure he is looking for money but she decides to close her eyes and tie herself up with the bed anyway. She talks about how she is sure he will help her get past this and naturally he has a lethal solution to the problem. The problem with Willa is you feel like nobody would actually act like this. She may as well have been wearing a sign that said to bump her off. She made the whole thing incredibly easy for Harry.
The rest of the town also act foolishly. So this random guy comes through and immediately he is able to radicalize all of them? Willa’s own parents are quick to believe him about Willa running off as if she was always betraying her responsibilities. Everyone trusts Harry immediately. It takes the whole concept of a naive town to a whole new level. They eat up everything he says without any kind of hesitation. It’s definitely unfortunate. Not a single character stays strong. Even the local fisherman who was John’s only hope ends up getting drunk.
Then you have Rachel who is the only good character in the film. While Harry is twisting the Bible and its meanings around to suit his purposes as a serial killer, Rachel is busy teaching her kids about true values. When Harry shows up at her place it does lead to an eventual confrontation. Rachel can handle herself at least and also has a gun which is incredibly handy here. Without it then things might have gotten a little difficult. Ultimately she held her own and defended the house. You can’t ask for anything more than that and she did it even with the kids making things more difficult.
The worst character there was definitely Ruby. Not only did she fall for his charms immediately but when Rachel was starting to take the lead in the fight Ruby quickly blinded her with a candle light. Really? Why would she even do that from the start. It was a terrible moment and made her sink even lower down the ranks. That’s just a core problem with most of the characters in this film. None of them seem particularly intelligent aside from Rachel. She really has to hold all of the heroes up on her own because nobody really gives her any real backup.
As for Harry, he’s not exactly a villain that I can get behind. He runs scared after a single gunshot and is only good at taking on opponents who can’t fight back. There’s nothing particularly impressive about him as well. I don’t get how his act was able to fool anyone, much less the whole village. Somehow everyone bought into him which I find pretty scary. Either way it’s good that John and Pearl escaped that town.
Overall, I would not recommend this film. Harry is only able to get so far because none of the characters show any real intelligence. They are all here just to get in the way. Pearl especially makes things as hard as possible on John. If she would at least not keep on offering so much extra information things might have been a little easier on them. Just a little bit since Harry would have been closing ground either way but why make things any easier on him right? As Harry is hunting defenseless children who can’t fight back I wouldn’t exactly call it a thrilling film. If you want a true thriller I recommend watching something like Independence Day instead. This one we can leave to the past.