Directed by Iain Softley
Starring Julianne Hough, Teddy Sears
A young woman becomes trapped in her car after a hitchhiker causes her to have an automobile accident.
Jason Blum is the smartest man in Hollywood today. He’s the only man who get is. He has such a strong business model that he’s guaranteed never to fail. He pushes out cheap-to-make horror movies made for a mass market on a budget of $20-$30 million, which turn over $200 million worldwide. From that he can take risks on even lower-budget straight-to-DVD or small-scale releases with the same success rate. The latest in this plan is Curve, from Hackers and Skeleton Key director Iain Softley. But the movie isn’t quite as good as Mr. Blum’s business model.
While driving to across the country to her wedding, a young woman (Julianne Hough) is attacked by a seemingly handsome and charming man. In order to save herself, she causes her car to veer off the road, flipping it over in the process. Only her plan has backfired somewhat, as while he is alive and free, she is trapped in the car with no signs of escape.
There have been a couple of high-concept ideas at this year’s FrightFest including Landmine Goes Click and Inner Demon, both of which have faltered in the last half hour because they’re too afraid their ideas are weak. Curve doesn’t have that problem. Softley sticks to his guns the entire way through the movie, setting the majority of the film in this one location, and never veering out of what our main character can see. Think of it as 127 Hours in a car, or Locke with an interesting plot.
Softley’s direction is phenomenal. He keeps the movie so contained that you will start to feel claustrophobic, and his use of ‘show don’t tell’ is masterful. Because the film was shot on location with real props and a real atmosphere, Curve feels very genuine and that only adds to the drama. And this is all carried beautifully by Hough. The success of the movie rests on her shoulders, which she pulls off without a hint of effort. Every one of her struggles feels real, and her pain is ever present through the whole movie. Softley doesn’t let us rest for a second during Curve, and Hough’s performance backs this up. Without much dialogue to work with, Hough tells us everything we need to know through her movements – varied though they are. It’s a spell-binding performance, and could have solidified this as a must-see.
However, Curve has a couple of issues that really knock the film down a peg or two. In the post-screening Q&A, Softley says that he didn’t want his villain, played by Teddy Sears, to be too cartoony. While his intentions were good, he ultimately failed. Sears is always calm, but never in a threatening way. His character has such little substance and his performance is just the wrong side of scenery-chewing that he does come across like a Saturday morning cartoon baddie, only without the maniacal laugh. Furthermore, while the movie does stick to its guns when it comes to the plot, Curve does have a weak finale. It all feels too predictable, which is a shame when the first hour was so wild and out of control. Alongside that, for all of the good Softley does with building up Hough’s survival instincts, she is ultimately not her own saviour. Which is a real downer when you look back on all the good that was accomplished early on.
But Curve is far from a bad movie. And when compared to something like Landmine Goes Click or Inner Demon, Curve is a the superior movie. There are just a couple of niggles that really hold the film back, which is such a shame. Iain Softley’s direction is faultless as is Julianne Hough’s performance, but the script by Kimberly Lofstrom Johnson and Lee Patterson and a fairly bad showing from Teddy Sears does muddy Curve’s waters. Probably worth a rental, but nothing to rush out and see.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.