“How is this my life?”, asks the horrified protagonist of director Brian Darwas’ gripping horror film Get My Gun. It is a darkly comic moment in a film that comes across as a modern take on exploitation films, for thinking people. From the opening sequence, viewers can see that this movie means business, and so does its central character, but the filmmakers wisely aim for characterisation and story above sensationalism.
Kate Hoffman gives a star-making performance as Amanda, a young woman working as a maid in a questionable motel so that she can save up to finish her university studies, which were put on hold after a mysterious family event. She befriends Rebecca (Christy Casey), a new maid at work, and when one of the innocent pranks that they play on each other leads to a violent and tragic incident involving Amanda and a motel guest, disturbing and unsettling incidents begin to unfold.
Darwas, working from a script that he co-wrote with Jennifer Carchietta, does a superb job at the helm. He manages to balance grindhouse horror and thriller elements with a natural realism. Amanda’s mundane, everyday life and her friendship with Rebecca are given time to breathe, allowing viewers to become wholly invested in these characters, especially Amanda. We truly feel for this young woman by the time she is subjected to her first terrible brush with evil, and Darwas gives us even more reason to do so during and after that. Amanda’s troubles don’t end with that single incident, and I’ll leave it at that, because Get My Gun holds multiple surprises.
For as realistic as many scenes feel, Darwas uses an approach similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous long death scene in Torn Curtain — that is, it isn’t always easy to kill someone, or for someone to die — for a couple of this film’s characters, which some viewers may find stretches credibility. Overall, though, Get My Gun flows rather seamlessly between tones, and the occasional instances of macabre humour are well realised.
The character of Amanda never really has it easy, and she possesses a combination of stubbornness and the will to keep living that makes her truly engaging. Hoffman is fantastic in the role, nailing every nuance with expressive eyes and facial miens that boldly get their messages across. The supporting cast is fine, too, including Casey as sympathetic friend Rebecca, Rosanne Rubino as a doctor who takes an interest in Amanda, and William Jousset as a truly hideous person.
Darwas and his cast and crew have crafted a crackerjack indie horror effort. Beatrice Sniper and Brandon K. Williams have done a stellar job with practical special effects and make-up, and Mary Perrino’s cinematography work is splendid.
Get My Gun delivers the goods in the tension and suspense departments. I found myself uneasy from the first moment that Amanda appears on screen, knowing that something dreadful is headed her way. This film is a nail-biter that will have viewers cheering for its lead for myriad reasons.
Reviewer: By Joseph Perry