WRITER’S BLOCK (2019)
Directed by Jeff Kerr, Ray Spivey
Written by Jeff Kerr, Ray Spivey
Starring Craig Nigh, Mike Gassaway, Katusha Robert, Chris Warner, Jeannie Carter-Cruz, Bobbie Grace, Ashley Rollins, C.J. Roberts, Nora Hunter, Robert Twaddell
Find out more about this film here!!
Craig Nigh plays Skip Larson, a struggling writer (is there any other kind?) and accomplished alcoholic who had one successful book, followed by a few failed ones. After a mediocre signing at a book store, he is approached by a hired gun named Digger (Chris Warner) with an offer to come visit his employer, a famous author named Chester McGraw (Mike Gassaway). Chester wants to hire Skip to help him through some speedbumps he is having with his new manuscript and is planning to pay a pretty penny for his work. But Chester’s contract for Skip is detailed with some very specific fine print and soon Skip becomes a prisoner at Chester’s ranch and the subject of much abuse and torture. When Skip attempts to escape the ranch, Chester goes native and begins hunting him with spears and guns in a Most Dangerous Game scenario.
I’m a big fan of stories about the process of writing. I consider myself a wordsmith and any time a peek into the process of someone’s writing style is available, I tend to pay attention. The best moments of WRITER’S BLOCK occur when we get to pull back that magical curtain and see the perils, the many downs, and often dismal life of a writer. Skip is your typical cliché. He drinks too much and comes up with every excuse to do anything but write. The film does a good job at showing how hard it is to simply push oneself to write as when you do so, it often meets with criticism, rejection, and depression. Filmmakers Jeff Kerr and Ray Spivey do a decent job of understanding how hard it is to become a writer and maintain a career as one.
The problem I had with WRITER’S BLOCK is that it lags very low in the middle. There are some interesting turns toward the end, the inciting moment is decent and interesting, and the setup for this Most Dangerous Game style hunt is peppered through, but in the end, none of that kind of craziness happens. I kind of wish this film would have gone as crazy as it was hinted at with a primal Chester hunting Skip with spears on this property. This only happens briefly and then we move on, so the potential is never really delivered upon. The “magic” of coming up with decent ideas is never really explored. Skip has bad ideas until all of a sudden, his ideas and pages are phenomenal. You never really see what is so good or bad about the writing. And the main conflict, which is all about writing the story, really has very little action at all and what does occur is often beyond what its budget can achieve. I would have loved to see some kind of parallel between the story Skip was writing, the situation he was in, and the metamorphosis required for him to become an accomplished writer. But this story, which lauds the writing of its leads and mentions cliches in every criticism ironically isn’t well written and is full of cliches.
There’s the hint of something decent going on in WRITER’S BLOCK. The acting is decent—on par with this type of low budget fare. The effects are pretty low key as well, though there is a shot of a dead body that is actually pretty disturbing in how crude it looks. All in all, everything is done on a small budget. I just wish they would have pushed the narrative further and deeper just as the lead was pushed to deliver a solid story.