A morality tale following A Simple Plan’s blueprint gets more tracking than imagined.
By Jorge Ignacio Castillo
THE PLOT: Will (Jamie Bamber, Battlestar Galactica) and Dawn (Stefanie von Pfetten, one of the Decoys) are a marriage dealing with serious financial distress. An opportunity to escape of their predicament materializes in the form of a treasure hidden in the British Columbia wilderness. There are two obstacles between them and the gold: The harshest of winters and another couple –an ex-con and his hothead sister- they are forced to partner with.
Along the way, Will and Dawn face numerous moral predicaments and judgement calls they fail miserably. It’s a game of trust among people that don’t deserve any.
CRITIQUE: Similarities between Numb and Sam Raimi’s magnificent morality play A Simple Plan pop up almost immediately: The couple in economic disarray facing an ethical decision and picking the wrong horse. That said, the film remains interesting through its entirety by making the presumed main villain (Aleks Paunovic) relatable, and allowing the relationship between Will and Dawn deteriorate because of greed alone.
In order to spin this yarn, director Jason R. Goode and writer Andre Harden create a setup that demands considerable suspension of disbelief. The number of dramatic coincidences in Numb is off the charts, and the pivotal character that launches the doomed quest is the embodiment of plot convenience. If you are able to endure the contrivances, Numb offers plenty of rewards past the opening half hour, above all a hearty dose of unpredictability.
- The cinematography (by Jan Kiesser) is serviceable, although one can’t help to think on what Emmanuel Lubezki achieved with similar elements in The Revenant. If the look of Numb doesn’t give you the chills, the superb makeup will.
- The body horror quotient matches the moral decay beat by beat: You will never look at a crack on your shoe the same way.
- While Bamber and von Pfetten are fine as the hapless couple, Aleks Paunovic as their amiable-yet-menacing associate steals the movie.
- The dialogue could have used some more care. It fluctuates from stock lines to “no normal person speaks this way.”
- Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100) is miscast as a tough-as-nails antagonist. Her delicate features don’t quite scream hard life.
RATING (CANADIAN CURVE): ***1/2
Numb is playing until March 10th in Toronto, Whitby, Kanata/Ottawa, New Westminster, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Winnipeg. Opens March 11th in Saskatoon and the 18th in Regina.