Starring: Jacob Latimore, Dule Hill, Seychelle Gabriel, Storm Reid, Sasheer Zamata
Directed By: JD Dillard
Plot: Bo (Latimore) is a street magician by day, drug dealer by night, trying to provide for his little sister (Reid) after his mother’s death. After making a poor decision, Bo must fight to save himself, his girlfriend (Gabriel), and his sister from his drug lord boss (Hill). Will he be able to pull off this sleight of hand?
What Works: Jacob Latimore is fantastic in this. He’s very much a breakout star waiting to happen. I remember feeling the same way when I first saw Michael B Jordan, and Latimore is a lot like Jordan. Instantly likeable, and charismatic, he carries the film. Dule Hill is also surprisingly effective as a bad guy, and I didn’t think he would be. He makes for a very smart villain, one that could go toe-to-toe with any protagonist. I was also pleasantly surprised by Zamata, who normally turns in laughs on SNL, but did a fine dramatic performance here. I’m not sure why this film is being billed as a horror. There are no horror elements here. This is an indie drama/thriller/romance and one of the films stronger assets is that it is genre bending, and doesn’t conform to one specific genre. It has a few cool magic tricks and shots in the film that show it had some kind of budget, even though it is basically a low-budget indie.
What Doesn’t Work: The poor direction from JD Dillard lets this film down. He overuses fade to black, and the film has pacing issues. It erratically speeds up, slows down, and speeds up. This film wants so bad to be a thriller, but it keeps being bogged down by this indie idea that it needs to be a character piece, or a meditation on life. It holds the film back. But my biggest problem is the fade to black, which happens way WAY more than it needs to. Also, like most magic tricks, once I knew the science behind why Bo is able to do his magic tricks, I was less impressed. I thought it was kinda dumb, and it took me back from the movie a bit.
Final Word: A fairly decent film that’s worth a look because it does try to have a “voice” that is unique and different. Perspective is always appreciated, and I think this film has at least some of that. Also, Latimore is terrific. This film is in limited release, so you might not have it in theatres where you live, but I’d definitely recommend this over The Circle this weekend.
Final Grade: B