Ginger Nuts of Horror
REBOUND : DIRECTED BY MEGAN FREELS (2015)
Producer turned filmmaker Megan Freels shows us that she has what it takes to present a film with a highly believable story which the characters have fully rounded personalities.
Ashley James plays Claire, a slightly pudgy little redhead who returns home one day to find her boyfriend Eric (James Tyler Johnson) in bed with a younger and somewhat nasty looking but sexier redhead (Ali Williams). With three years of her life wasted on Eric she leaves him behind in Los Angeles and embarks on a move to Chicago. As if things couldn't get worse for her she loses her phone and soon after her car breaks down.
The whole setup so far is very familiar and takes its time, gradually easing us into her misery and frustration as she's having a truly bad day. There is very much a real-world sensibility in this film, thanks largely to the camera work which is not intrusive in the sound department which in my opinion gets things right by having natural background noises instead of filtering them out. Everything seems very normal. Things continue the slow pace with Claire stuck at the roadside in the dark trying to get help. Along comes Gus (Wes O'Lee), and to be honest he doesn't appear to be all that creepy, except we know by this time that something bad is on the horizon, it has to be right? After all it's a horror film.
Gus cannot repair the car, but offers Claire a lift to the nearest town, which she reluctantly accepts. The ride to town is a short one and uneventful.
Claire meets up with Eddie, the young owner of the garage; he inherited the family business and seems to be a little shy and awkward. He arranges to take out his tow truck and bring her car back, so she waits in his office for him to return and when he does he gives her a lift to the local bar where she can get a drink and some food. There is a tangible sense of menace as she walks through the bar, which really drove home how uncomfortable it is for some people when they are in a bad situation and are highly self-conscious. The tension she feels is compounded by the general animosity of the few townsfolk she meets. The bartender (Kevin Bulla) does a fine job of being completely apathetic, just getting him to do his job seems to be something of a task in itself, making Claire even more uncomfortable in her situation. Eddie the mechanic joins her in the bar and they try a little small talk, which in spite of Claire's personality doesn't really go anywhere.
Claire feels a little lightheaded, and from that moment on her day gets worse.
All of the above setup is approximately half of the film's runtime, well-staged and very well acted, but I did find myself wondering if this was going to ever truly get going, I needn't have worried. The second half of the film cranks everything up a few notches. I have seen many films with a similar premise, yet seldom with a main character so ordinary, it delivers clean dialogue which is given in such a natural manner that one could imagine it would be exactly what would be said in that situation. The main support Eddie (Mark Scheibmeir) is on superb form, delivering a powerful logic with which Claire simply has to agree. I was reminded very much of William Goldman's script for Stephen King's film 'Misery', in which two characters carry all of the subtleties of the plot with consummate skill. What could have been a dull excursion into all too familiar territory is actually an absorbing and subtle examination of character which doesn't resort to the usual Hollywood ending we have come to expect. The grand finale is powerful in its simplicity.
Rebound is a fine choice for Megan Freels' filmmaking debut and I hope she continues creating films of this quality in future. I would certainly watch it again.