THOSE WHO WALK AWAY (2022)
Directed by Robert Rippberger.
Written by Spencer Moleda, Robert Rippberger, Aaron Pollack.
Starring Booboo Stewart, Scarlett Sperduto, Nils Allen Stewart, Nancy Harding, Grant Morningstar, Bryson JonSteele, Devin Keaton, Connor McKinley Griffin
Max (played by TWILIGHT’s BooBoo Stewart…is his real name BooBoo?) goes on a blind date with an English major named Avery (Scarlett Sperduto) and when the movie theater they planned to attend is shut down due to a bomb threat, they decide to spice things up by checking out an abandoned house they think is haunted. Like you do on any blind date… Turns out the place really is cursed and Max finds himself unable to escape the curse of a ghost named Rotcreep (Nils Allen Stewart).
Can I start out by saying I love the name Rotcreep and how much it is wasted on this movie?
THOSE WHO WALK AWAY is not an unwatchable film. It actually has a lot going for it. The problem is that I think it believes it is smarter and more unique than it really is. The entire film attempts to achieve its runtime with one, single, extended shot. And knowing what is put into extended takes, I will acknowledge that THOSE WHO WALKS AWAY is a technical achievement, especially so since it is filmed on such a low budget. The planning and skill put into making a film with very few cuts really is impressive. The cuts that do occur are masked very well, achieving that immediate and continuous streak nicely.
I also found myself kind of liking the two leads. Both have a casual feel to their awkward first meeting conversation and while I think the front thirty minutes creeps by at an arduous pace, it’s made watchable because these are two likable actors saying the lines. Later, when the drama amplified, both are able to carry the weight of some pretty heavy emotional beats.
THOSE WHO WALK AWAY really suffers from overwriting and forced metaphor. The drink the young couple consume is called Inferno. The whole time they are discussing metaphysical and existential theories that Avery is studying for her dissertation. Of course, these theories have everything to do with the way the story pans out. There’s a genuinely clever scene between Stewart and his buddy on the phone where it appears the two are talking to one another via split screen, then when Max walks away, his friend follows him with a phone to his head as if they are still talking. Fun stuff. Again, this shows an inventiveness to the visual style of the film, but that style just doesn’t show up in the writing, unfortunately.
The pretentiousness goes on until the very end where the director can be heard saying “Cut” offscreen, I guess to acknowledge, once again, the extreme lengths made to achieve the done-in-one-shot aspects of THOSE WHO WALK AWAY. Had this youthful pretentiousness been turned down a notch, I think I would have been won over by the technical achievements more and maybe the extra depths sought after in the plot. Unfortunately, I think doing this film in one take took precedence over story and especially scares, which really don’t occur that often. I’d give THOSE WHO WALK AWAY a mild recommendation. It’s interesting to watch from a technical level, but predictable and overwritten.