A quickie Vegas wedding morphs into the longest night ever in this effective chiller that boasts a great twist which demands a second viewing.
The story begins like a ‘Film Noir” with a camera panning over a cheap Vegas hotel and then into a room where our newlyweds are slowly waking up. They may have married on the fly but Richard is a thoughtful husband who brings his wife, Gina, breakfast in bed. His somber narration over this scene warns us that things are going to get weird.
The pair head out across the desert that night (because it is less hot and allows for some creepy visuals too). Driving through the desert at night is as close as it comes to piloting a spaceship as all you see are stars and pitch black. A mysterious stranger wishes Richard well on the trip and this shadowy figure has only just begun haunting our newlyweds.
They promptly get lost and struggle to find their way back to the interstate. They come across a crashed vehicle and a bloodied body as they near the highway. They opt to load the guy in the back seat and speed towards the main road hoping to get him help before he perishes. The gore soaked victim comes too and turns out to be one weird mama jama.
He seems to know something about the couple, who barely know each other, and drops cryptic hints about this fact when he isn’t bleeding on the upholstery and cadging cigarettes off Gina. Out of the blue he attacks Richard and they plunge off the road and out of the car. Gina manages to take the wheel while Richard takes the offensive with a large rock.
They realize that it will be hard to explain this sequence of events to the police. How could a guy that banged up be a real threat to them? They decide to bury him in the desert but this makes for an uncomfortable ride. They discover that it is extra hard to establish trust with your partner learn when you barely know them. Every nuance of the other person becomes suspect and the pair are soon at each other’s throats with every new revelation about each other possibly shading a dark past .
It makes for an intense ride which should hold your interest despite the limited setting of a front seat . Things open up when they pull in at a rest stop where Richard discovers he lost his watch and may have left it on the body. Going back to get it is a no-brainer since it has his name on it. Gina refuses to make the trip and chooses to stay at the rest area with a loaded gun she happened to have in her handbag(they did meet in Vegas).
Unfortunately, the body is not where they left it and the sound of gun shots from the rest area only reinforces that this road trip was a really bad decision comparable only to hitching yourself to a woman you never met.
This turns out to be a good ride thanks to some effective camera work and a moody atmosphere. The leads are at home with the material and include Lauren German as Gina and Thomas(The Punisher) James as the unlucky Richard. Jane, who also directed, us quite good here especially when a last minute revelation offers a shocker of a twist ending. It will make you want to re-watch at eats part of the film and those scenes will be even better now that you know what is going on. Suffice to say Jane carries it off well and delivers thriller that is equal parts ‘Twilight Zone” and Alfred Hitchcock. Look for the always dependable Ron Perlman in an extended cameo as a law officer who tries to make sense of Richard’s story.
Best line: “I’m wearing most of his brains.”
2009, rated R.