New On Demand from The Orchard!
THE SPEARHEAD EFFECT (2017)
Directed by Brandon Moore, Caleb Smith
Written by Brandon Moore, Caleb Smith
Starring Darlene Rane Jameson, Vogel, Alex McArthur, Caleb Smith, Jaime Gallagher, Paul Schackman, Regen Wilson, Leif Steinert, Janet Craig, Daniel Weiss, Stephen Grove Malloy, James Geralden
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THE SPEARHEAD EFFECT is a timely story about vigilantism, distrust in the system, and the general malaise the world has these days in terms of hope for the future. It’s equal parts DEATH WISH and FIGHT CLUB, but ends up being a pretty thrilling and compelling story with some nice twists and turns along the way.
Rane Jameson plays Jake, whose mother was raped and killed by a murderer who was never caught. Angry and motivated, Jake starts a movement trying to expose police corruption and negligence involving the cops refusing to patrol specific neighborhoods due to high amounts of risk and crime. Jake goes undercover and videos a few cops talking about this, causing a massive firing in the police force. Taking inspiration from Jake’s online rants against the system, a group calling themselves the Frontiersmen begin enacting their own brand of justice, doing the job that the cops refuse to do. Receiving threats from disgruntled cops, Jake decides to stay at a buddy’s house for a while and lay low. But Jake uncovers that his friend is a member of a local contingent of the Frontiersmen and Jake is offered a membership into the organization he inspired. As Jake descends deeper into the rabbit hole, he realizes that he has created a monster and teeters on the brink of descending into the darkness of vengeance and redemption forever.
What I admire most about THE SPEARHEAD EFFECT is the structure of the story it is telling. There are quite a few well hidden surprises that pop up throughout the story that make the film feel lively and unpredictable. Most likely, this was a modestly budgeted film. But that doesn’t hinder the story as there are big ideas at play here that really work. I was wrapped up in this film from beginning to end, enjoying the dark descension taking place as Jake realizes that his online rants have real world ramifications.
There’s also a nice EYES WIDE SHUT/THE STRANGERS feel to the film when we get into Frontiersmen territory. There’s a ceremonial and operatic tone to the way these vigilantes perform their ritualistic redemption rites that give off an ominous feel. Add in come creepy babydoll masks that everyone wears and you have a look and feel that is utterly unique and quite terrifying.
While there might be some lesser acting going on here and there, I think this was an ambitious film worth seeking out. It really seems to have gone out of its way to put forth a lesson here, but doesn’t come off as preachy or melodramatic. The moral quandary Jake faces is a powerful one and presented in a manner that makes you wonder what you would do in that situation. THE SPEARHEAD EFFECT, produced by Terence Malick, is an intriguing film that will leave you questioning your own morals and thinking twice before posting that online rant.