Movie review time! This time we’re gonna venture off our normal blood soaked path and go the way of the independent dramatic thriller with Scalene, released earlier this week on DVD and Blu-ray from Breaking Glass Pictures.
Janice Trimble is a single mother, who has given her entire life to help care for her mentally handicapped son Jakob. Jakob is in his twenties and can no longer speak or care for himself after a huffing incident. The burden of day to day life becomes too much for Janice so she hires an aid to allow her to try and have a social life. Insert Paige, a college student looking to earn a little extra money while going to school. Long story short, Paige accuses Jakob of sexually assaulting her, and files charges to have him sent away to a hospital. Janice, now lost without her son, snaps and hunts Paige down looking to exact some revenge.
Scalene is being advertised as a perceptual thriller, and that is probably the best way to explain it. Instead of having a typical straight narrative, it tells the story from all three points of view, but follows a distinct path that makes this decision work excellently. The movie begins at the end of Janice’s point of view, her barging into Paige’s house flashing a pistol with revenge clearly on her mind. Her story is then told in reverse order until Paige is introduced into their lives. After a brief change to Jakob’s point of view, we end up on Paige’s point of view starting from the beginning until we end up back where the movie started. Sounds exhausting and confusing, but trust me it works. I’m glad director Zack Parker didn’t play the multiple point of view angle the normal way, retelling the same story in the same chronological order over and over again.
The entire weight of Scalene rests on it’s actors, and thankfully everyone brought their A games to the table. The fabulous Margo Martindale (hot off her Emmy award winning performance on Justified) does a fantastic job as Janice. She comes across as a sincere mother who is doing everything she can for her son, and then has her soul completely ripped out as her son is taken away from her. Just the look on her face as she blankly sits behind the wheel of her car is heartbreaking. Then you have Hanna Hall (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) playing Paige who is in another difficult situation as Paige. Paige (like Janice) has some tough decisions to make and Hanna does a great job dealing with the highs and lows that her character goes through. A brief shout out to Adam Scarimbolo (Stakeland) as well for playing Jakob. Even though he has no dialog, he does have some tough scenes to play and does a great job making you feel for the young man as he’s being taken away from his mother. I’m not one for a tear jerker, but I have a heart too dammit.
Put in the hands of lesser actors, Scalene may have been a mess. Thankfully, everyone does a superlative job. And while the journey may sound confusing, it works wonderfully as everyone’s view always looks slightly different than the next person. It is one of those rare instances where nothing is black and white, instead everything you see is gray and everyone will come out of the movie with different reactions. Definitely not a horror movie, but I can’t recommend Scalene high enough. It is a fabulous piece of storytelling. One final note for fans of the film, the DVD version only contains the first 15 minutes of the 3+ hour making of documentary. To see the entire thing you’ll have to upgrade to the Blu-ray version.