Mean Dreams

I think God’s a lie, something that someone made up to stop people being bad!

Year Released : 2016

Director : Nathan Morlando

Cast : Josh Wiggins, Sophie Nélisse, Bill Paxton and Joe Cobden

This is another of those movies that has been on my to-watch list for quite some time now. At first I thought to myself that it is going to be some dodgy, but then the trailer grabbed me straight away, and I was very intrigued by what turned out to be one of Bill Paxton’s final films before his passing.

I won’t claim to be a massive Bill Paxton fan, but he is in so many great films, including “Aliens”, “Weird Science” and my favourite film of 2014, the exceptional “Nightcrawler”. He is the only cast member that I have ever heard of, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Plot

Casey (Nelisse) and Wayne (Paxton) have recently moved to a really small town, Casey soon meets Jonas (Wiggins), a farmhand and the two become friends. Wayne is less than impressed when he meets Jonas, and starts being very rude and unwelcoming. The two get into a fight when Jonas hears Wayne beating Casey, with the latter convincingly winning. It only takes frantic begging from Casey for Wayne to not drown Jonas.

After failing to convince everyone what Wayne is like, Jonas sneaks into his truck and witnesses him killing some men and stealing their money. He manages to sneak off the truck along with a bag of money. Upon realising it is gone Wayne returns to the gas station where Jonas escaped and he is told by the clerk about him hiding. When he returns home he finds Jonas fleeing with Casey and offers them a ‘return it and I’ll forget the whole thing’ deal, which is rejected.

The two then find themselves on the run from a man who is exceptionally intelligent and violent.

A decent effort?

I was thinking to myself beforehand that I wouldn’t really enjoy this, but there was the off chance and I am glad that I took that chance. Whilst it is not on the same level as “No Country for Old Men”, there is some familiarity between that masterpiece and this low budget thriller, and that is something that I don’t say easily.

Wayne is a terrifying antagonist in many ways because you genuinely feel that he could kill someone and not think about it twice, he is ruthless and what makes it scarier is that has a silver-tongue and almost manages to convince Casey to abandon Jonas. This is in no small part down to the performance from Paxton, especially as realistically the character isn’t featured for what is a pretty solid half hour, at least.

The film is around 1 hour 50 minutes, but unlike others that I have reviewed recently with a similar runtime it never feels like it drags and this is in no small part down to you never being sure when Wayne will show up. Even though the characters do everything possible to hide and be anonymous, you never feel like they’re truly safe, especially as Wayne isn’t the only one chasing them.

It’s not often that I comment on the cinematography, but I have to in this case as it is fantastic. The use of a steady camera was a pleasant surprise (I hate the shoulder cams) and this really helps capture the beautiful scenery throughout and the film looks beautiful

I can see why some wouldn’t like this as it is a very slow film, similar to the aforementioned “No Country for Old Men”. This is very much a film that uses the run-time to develop the characters, but I can see some complaining that there is too much of that and not enough face-to-face conflict between the characters. It didn’t bother me personally.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable thriller.

Summary

A thriller that will probably polarise most of the viewers. It’s slow, but uses the slowness purposefully and exceptionally well in my opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The cast are solid throughout and do a good job for the majority of the run time, and I suspect that if you liked “No Country for Old Men” then there is a good chance that you will like this as it has several similar elements.
Don’t go in expecting a masterpiece and you’ll probably really enjoy this.
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