TONE DEAF (2019)


Written & Directed By: Richard Bates Jr.
Cinematography: Ed Wu
Editor: Yvonne Valdez 

Cast: Amanda Crew, Robert Patrick, Hayley Marie Norman, AnnaLynne McCord, Kim Delaney, Ray Wise, Ray Santiago, Nelson Franklin, Keisha Castle Hughes, Ronnie Gene Blevins 

A woman goes to the countryside to spend a quiet weekend after losing her job and having her last complicated relationship implode. She rents a country house to an old-fashioned widower, who struggles to hide his psychopathic tendencies.

The film stays true to it’s title, but unfortunately never feels like it truly lands.

This film feels like it has some ideas and something to say about a millennials vs baby boomers comedy, but as is his forte has to raise the stakes from being a simple comedy to a horror film. So that there are thrilling set pieces.

Writer/Director Richard Bates Jr. can be pretty hit and miss when it comes to his previous films and even here. Though they always feel independent and original.

This film keeps his dark sense of humor and stays awkward throughout. though doesn’t go for shockingly strong dramatic depth.

This feels like one of his lesser films as it has plenty of ideas yet feels unfocused as a whole. Here the film feels like he is trying to be a bit more conventional, but like a Woody Allen when focused. where it feels watered down unless in his own domain. Here he has some fun ideas he wants to put out there and experiment with, but tries to fill them in with a story that is barely there. So that it comes out in strange places to fill out the film or come off as it’s quirks. Though that could be it’s intention. More a film to entertain the filmmaker then the audience.

Like the title the tone keeps changing and off beat and note. Just as the main characters seems to go to a wrong note constantly messing up the rhythm of her playing. That is how it feels watching the film. Though it seems intentional as well as something that goes with the villains dementia.

The characters and actors deserve better as they are so good here and are why keeps the film interesting and moving. Though the film does have a strong and inspired third act.

They are what make the film work. If it was shortened from it’s already brief 88 minute running time to an hour the film Might have been tighter and made a good episode of a horror television anthology. As the film has a handful of good moments and is actually funny at times.

Maybe the title refers to the films uneven tone. Just as the lead seems to be that way when it comes to music and mentally how off Robert Patrick’s character is.

As throughout the film has these satirical comedic moments where it plays off as comedic and then mixes in some horror, but then seems to add so many characters in the mix that end up being disposable and useless. Not disposable as in victims. As then there would be an explanation more here to either make situations more realistic and torturous or to make the audience believe these characters are here just to be dispatched violently.


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