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With: Jeremy Allen White, Logan Huffman, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Pellegrino, William Devane, Jon Gries, Ashley Adams
Written by: Dutch Southern
Directed by: Simon Hawkins, Zeke Hawkins
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 92
Date: 11/14/2014

Bad Turn Worse (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Texas Danger

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Feeling like a forgotten offspring of Blood Simple, Red Rock West, and Reservoir Dogs, Bad Turn Worse is an above average Texas crime tale, beginning over breakfast with a discussion of biscuits and gravy and Jim Thompson novels.

When his best friend Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) and his girl Sue (Mackenzie Davis) get ready to leave their small Texas town for college, B.J. (Logan Huffman) takes them out for an unforgettable night on the town, spending a wad of cash. But unbeknownst to the friends, B.J. has stolen the money from his cotton mill boss, Giff (Mark Pellegrino). When Giff tries to beat a confession from an innocent Mexican worker, Bobby assumes responsibility for the theft. The friends are then forced to pull off a heist (the mob uses the cotton mill to launder money) to pay back the debt. But, as pulp novel devotee Sue mentions early in the film, "things are not what they seem."

Throughout the movie, the characters sink their teeth into some spicy, curly dialogue, especially the veteran criminals. In one striking scene, Bobby goes to the police and the corrupt sheriff (Jon Gries) lets loose with a twisty, sinister selection of words that tells Bobby to keep his trap shut.

Brother co-directors Simon and Zeke Hawkins give the movie a potent small town feel, with big skies and sun-cooked air. Everything feels lived-in, or more appropriately, stuck. The younger characters have not yet learned the cynicism of the older characters. But unfortunately, a plot twist toward the end involving one of them feels a bit too abrupt. It leads to a rushed conclusion, and the feeling that Bad Turn Worse is less a striking debut than just entertaining pulp.

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