WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME (2021)
Directed & written by Justin Price.
Starring Franziska Schissler, Alex Ryan Brown, Chase Garland, Olivia Rivera, Mike Markoff, Allan Barao, Gilberto Ortiz, Kelsey Johnson, Suzette Iracheta, John Brown, Felix Zamora, Marcia Vargas, Natalia Rangel, Bianca Stein
After a bloody firefight with the police, a group of criminals make off with a ton of cash, as well as codes promising a much bigger payoff leading to the accounts of everything from government secret organizations to the international mob. On the run and with some of them wounded, they decide to hole up in a random house in the country. But when they break into the home, they find more than they bargained for as they’ve entered the domain of some kind of vampire cult.
Basically, this is a version of SCARECROWS which attempted to cross genres by having a crime story stumble into a horror tale. SCARECROWS worked because it paid a lot of attention to make the atmosphere as dark and scary as possible. The intent was to make a horror movie with crime and action elements. WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME attempts to blend the same, but I feel director/writer Justin Price might have been leaning more into the action/crime element than the horror and because of it, the blend is not as even. This has a lot to do with the overabundance of cliches peppered into the first half of WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME. The film opens with a very HEAT-like confrontation between the crooks and the cops. The problem is that it lacks any of the intensity, gravity, and suspense of HEAT because we don’t know these characters, what’s at stake, or why we need to care. It’s just guys firing machine guns at other guys in the streets.
After the shootout, there is a chance for the audience to get to know the characters, but even then, they are simply characters we’ve seen a million and one times in other crime stories. There’s the dedicated leader, the tough as nails gal, the crazy guy who smiles at inappropriate things, the traitor working with the feds, and the black gal who is sassy. Half of these characters are killed before we even get to care about them, the other half are plunged into this vampire house scenario that really doesn’t allow anyone to do anything but run around in the dark. It feels as if Price was trying to squeeze too much into the first half and then gave up and simply let the film slide towards the predictable ending.
The acting is not good. Some of these guys aren’t actors at all. Others may have had a few roles but lack the presence or experience to make the cliched script work. It doesn’t help that much of the film seems to have been over-dubbed because of bad sound. The sequences capturing all of this is roughly edited together. Pauses in the speech of the characters could have been spiced up in the editing room by cutting away rather than just lingering on characters stammering about. Slo-mo gunplay is fun, but when it’s obviously an animated gun-burst with the actor simply shaking the gun like it’s being shot, it’s going to be pretty obvious, so lingering on that image is probably not the best idea. It’s simple details like this that take the guts out of the action.
Once the horror happens, things get a little more potent. The lighting is better, the reactions are ok, and the blood and gore is passible. It seems Price might feel more comfortable in the realm of horror, so hopefully in his next film he spends less time on the tired action movie tropes and more on the spooky stuff. As is, WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME just doesn’t work as a action horror mix as the pieces are too played out to make an original blend.