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GETAWAY (2020)

Directed by Lane Toran
Written by Jaclyn Betham, Lane Toran
Starring Jaclyn Betham, Scout Taylor-Compton, Landry Allbright, Lane Toran, Noah Lowdermilk, Jamil Walker Smith, Lane Caudell, Ben Deschaine

You can always tell a great horror movie from the fact that it has not one but two extended dance numbers—one of them, a line dancing number. Now, this is a short film as is, clocking in at around an hour ten or fifteen. Considering the first 25 minutes focuses on showing the viewer how hot three lead gals who will soon be in peril are, it’s pretty evident that this is a horror movie that is more interested in titillation than thrills and chills. Take a good editor to this one, and the extended party and shots scene (where the gals are in bathing suits), the getting ready to go out scene (where the gals are in one state of undress or taking showers), and the dance and kiss each other at the bar scene would all be snipped clean. But that would leave about a 40 minute movie, so I guess the padding was needed. Needless to say, GETAWAY has its priorities in showing off unattainable model-like women rather than padding the film with scares, story, or character.

Jaclyn Betham plays Tamara, the gal with a decent head on her shoulders, though she doesn’t really seem to mind that the local police officer who shows up to her place unannounced is eager to have a second date. Tamara is meeting Maddy (Scout Taylor-Compton) and her girlfriend Brooke (there’s always a Brooke, played by Landry Allbright) at a cabin getaway in the middle of the sticks. She runs out of gas on the way there and is helped out by a pair of skeevy locals Merv (director Lane Toran) and Kib (Noah Lowdermilk), who of course show up later with ill intention towards the gals.

Had the latter 40 minutes of GETAWAY been full of thrills, chills, and twists on my expectations, I might have forgiven the film for wasting so much time in the first 25. It’s practically Horror Movie 101 that maps out a film with an opening scare, followed by a period of gettin’ to know you time with the soon to be victims, before the horror starts. The problem with GETAWAY is that it does venture into some interesting nooks and crannies in terms of plot at the 30 minute mark, but because there is so little development of these ideas (and little time to do so), I can’t find myself to forgive it for the extended fluff at the beginning.

Filmmaker Toran and his co-writer Betham (who also played Tamara) have put together some interesting twists along the way, but they are so underwritten that it just feels like they lop out some information in an info dump before moving on to something else. There are plot holes galore as one of the gals goes missing from the group, only to have the other two show up later at where she is being held with no explanation as to how they knew how to get there. There is an interesting and twisted theory Merv, Kib, and their pop live by, but it is wasted on some throwaway dialog info dump and never really referred to again. There’s also the last minute arrival of the police that relies completely on coincidence and the way the whole movie wraps up leaves scores of questions unanswered. Had I cared, I would have been pissed. But I didn’t and so, I was merely glad the film was over without taking up too much of my time.

The acting is ok. Toran has a menacing, whispering tone that I guess could be called creepy. There are a couple of scenes where a woman in white keeps on appearing and disappearing which are sort of done with some style. Jaclyn Betham looks like a model, but actually is the best actor of the bunch. I try not to rip on horror films who cast for Hollywood’s version of perfect rather than personality and skill. I have to remind myself that one of my favorite slashers, TOURIST TRAP, starred Tonya Roberts, yet still she managed to give a good performance despite her model-like good looks. But GETAWAY is no TOURIST TRAP. It is all stuffing and no turkey. More care was put into oogling over the women in their bikinis, making out, and dancing than any moment of the horror. This is horror done for the wrong reasons and I just can’t back it.