Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Word: Cults in Connecticut
is a cult operating in the shadows of Connecticut’s well heeled neighborhoods.
This is no mere meatheaded Ivy League secret society. They practice human
sacrifice. Sadly, Tom Hawkins’ son was their latest victim. Understandably, the
grieving father is not ready to forgive and forget in Gregory W. Friedle’s The Word (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
Hawkins regularly brokers multi-million
dollar deals for his firm, yet somehow his son Kevin was snatched right out
from under his nose at the mall. Not surprisingly, the single father is
suffering from crushing guilt, as well as rage and bereavement. He is a
complete wreck, but he still agrees to take a meeting with the FBI, who inform
him his son’s murder fits a pattern of ritualistic homicides throughout New
England. There is most definitely a cult behind the killings, but they are
organized in a highly regimented cell structure. However, they have
successfully placed undercover agent David Richardson in a cell overseen by a
Bafflingly, that deep cover agent
regularly attends meetings with Hawkins, the local detective on the case, and
his no-nonsense handler, special agent Mike Sheehy. You might think that would
be some sort of breach of protocol or security, but apparently not. In fact, it
is absolutely necessary to the plot, allowing Hawkins to stumble across
Richardson acting far too familiar with his ostensive target.
As a thriller, The Word is kind of a train wreck, but it is not even clear it
wants to be one. Essentially, the first half hour is dedicated to exploring the
depths of Hawkins’ pain and grief. Arguably, this is what works best in the
film, before it eventually shifts gears into a murky revenge-conspiracy
melodrama, riddled with plot holes. Frankly, it is embarrassingly easy to tell
who the secret cultist is, due to the limited cast of characters. Still, Friedle
finds some compelling Nutmeg State locations, including Castle Craig near Meriden.
To be fair, Kevin O’Donnell is not bad
as Hawkins and the commanding Broadway vet James Naughton (Michael Frayn’s Democracy) truly looks and sounds like a
Fed. Bernie McInerney also has a nice moment as Hawkins’ priest, but the rest
of the ensemble comes across a bit awkwardly, to put it in diplomatic terms.
Since there is no ominous text or tract driving
the evil doers, even The Word’s title
is rather off. It is an earnest film that all parties involved fully committed
to, but the inconsistent script doomed their efforts from the start. It feels
mean to say it, because it is such a scrappy indie production, wearing its CT
pride on its sleeve, but The Word just
cannot be recommended. For indomitable Connecticut cinema boosters, it opens
tomorrow (8/15) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: James Naughton, Movie cults