Directed by Jesse H. Knight
Written by Darren W. Conrad
Starring Darren W. Conrad, Candace Blanchard, Marco St. John, Maggie Batson
Cinematography by Jason Ledford
Music by Cutshawekane
Indie film review by Euan Franklin
There are films floating in the amateur ether that become famous, or infamous, because they have a humorously execrable quality. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is a popular example, as is James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror, which is even worse. Jesse H. Knight’s cop-based crime drama floats somewhere between the two.
John “Johnny” Walker (Darren W. Conrad) and Mandy Kain (Candace Blanchard) are police officers in a small rural town in North Carolina – where they face many issues and dilemmas during their patrols. One of these cases involves Officer Kain going to court after shooting and paralysing a fifteen-year-old burglar.
Considering the gritty genre and multiple plotlines, the amount of character conflict is surprisingly scarce. Many cases are thought provoking, but their resolutions are too fast and poorly structured. After Officer Kane’s court hearing, she visits the parents of the girl she paralysed. Neither parent was angry, neither was sad, neither wanted justice or revenge. Even the victim forgives her assailant in no time at all. This pattern recurs in the various plots within the film and turns tortuous to watch when all the problems seem to solve themselves. Filmmakers have an obligation to hurt their characters: kick them over, break their legs, spit on their faces. Jesse H. Knight, however, gives us an accidental push followed by a genuine apology.
We occasionally peek behind the curtain and into the life of Officer John Walker, as he makes and breaks with various women. These scenes bring clear and subtle explanations for his motives as a character. In spite of this, Conrad’s irritating gestures and sickening dialogue with children makes his approach more creepy than sweet. John Walker is a blubbering man-child, appealing more to our laughter than our tears.
Even though Conrad’s emotional performance is revolting to watch, Blanchard manages to display a genuine grief and torment over her experiences as a police officer. The character of Captain Jack MacDonald – a tough, steely policeman from a different generation – is the most watchable character in the whole indie film, excellently played by Marco St. John. However, all decent performances are made tedious by Jason Ledford’s mediocre cinematography and Cutshawekane’s cheaply constructed background score.
It is frustrating to learn there were as many as four people (including Jesse H. Knight) working in the sound department, considering the amount of audial negligence in the film. The craftspeople seem to be incorrectly content with basic foley noises without seeing the need for a Buzz Track – no ambience, but plenty of unvaried footsteps.
The same number of workers were also involved in the wardrobe department. I’ve never been to North Carolina, but I’m fairly sure that police badges are made of metal – not out of needle and thread, sewn into the front of an officer’s torso. This ridiculous design feature has squandered any legitimacy to the film, if the sound editing had not already achieved that.
Partners can be entertaining, but in all the wrong ways. The technical failures and storytelling weaknesses appear more like a piece of TV fan fiction than a genuine police drama. Fifty shades of rubbish.