Crime stories are often filled with colorful characters, interesting plot points and evoke everlasting emotions. The Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino are notorious for bringing noir and crime to movie audiences in fresh and original ways. However, they aren’t the only filmmakers to delve into the crime/thriller genre with decent results. Directing team (and brothers) Simon and Zeke Hawkins have come out with Bad Turn Worse, an independent western thriller that has all the elements necessary for a disturbing yet highly entertaining film but sadly because of its indie flavor, mass audiences will probably overlook it.
Bad Turn Worse focuses on a trio of teenage friends in a desolate part of Texas. There’s Bobby (Jeremy Allen White), a nerdy but good-hearted individual. There’s smart and tough Sue (Mackenzie Davis), a beautiful young woman with a passion for books. And finally, there’s B.J. (Logan Huffman), Sue’s reckless, somewhat charming boyfriend who has connections to some truly unsavory individuals. One of those individuals is Giff (Mark Pellegrino), a local hood and one day, B.J. takes it upon himself to steal a large amount of money from Giff and what follows is a series of truly unfortunate repercussions.
The trio of talented young actors is one aspect that keeps Bad Turn Worse from becoming an indie failure. Their personalities are all unique in their own way and the chemistry each actor has with one another (especially between White and Davis) are without a doubt, one of the film’s best qualities. The screenplay is a tad weak but the actors do their best to squeeze emotion and appeal out of the empty dialogue and at such young ages, it is pretty remarkable how great their range is.
The Hawkins brothers should be commended for their work here because the shots and angles all come together to tell a visual story in very powerful way. The dusty warehouses and sun-drenched deserts beautifully sum up the film’s theme and feel. These gifted filmmakers know exactly what they’re doing and their camerawork reinforces that fact. Bad Turn Worse also bears a strong resemblance to the Coen brothers’ first feature Blood Simple. and this is ironic because Bad Turn Worse is the Hawkins brothers’ first feature. With that tidbit in mind, it is very possible that the Hawkins will also have a career full of successes and awards. One can hope.
Another random occurrence worth noting is the appearance of seasoned actor William Devane, who pops up toward the end of the film in true mobster fashion. He has just a few short minutes on screen but those few minutes are among the best in the film’s modest 92-minute runtime. With his role coupled with the young trio, Bad Turn Worse is a thriller film with a lot going for it. The twang in the characters’ southern accents also enhances the character interactions. Basically, there are many positives to this film and if you’re interested in an indie thriller with some solid tension and deeply nuanced performances, then you should give Bad Turn Worse a try.