J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Curve: Taking the Scenic Route with Blumhouse

Listening to Roxette is simply bad karma. Mallory Rutledge claims it is just a mix tape her sister made, but she keeps playing it. Nevertheless, she certainly does not deserve what happens when she picks up a psychotic hitchhiker in Iain Softley’s Curve (trailer here), a Blumhouse production, which releases today on DVD.

Rutledge is clearly less than psyched about her imminent wedding, yet she agreed to drive her workaholic fiancé’s blazer from San Francisco to the ceremony in Denver. She is taking the scenic route, which we know will be her downfall. When the old school SUV breaks down in a cellular dead zone, Christian Laughton comes along just at the wrong moment. He actually gets her up and rolling again—and even seems willing to let Rutledge go her own way. Unfortunately, when she offers him a ride out of guilt, it gives the phony moralizer license to unleash his inner Max Cady.

Things quickly go from bad to worse when the alarmed Rutledge runs off the road. Laughton is thrown free, but she is pinned inside the car, well beyond the sightline from the highway. At first, Laughton is somewhat confused by this turn of events, but he subsequently returns to torment her at regular intervals. Of course, there is also a torrential storm on the horizon to further raise the stakes.

Softley seemed to have a promising career ahead of him when Backbeat, the fifth Beatle movie, came out in 1994, but his subsequent films have only been consistent in their inconsistency. Curve is ever more so. On paper, it looks like a fusion of The Hitcher and 127 Hours, but the finished product is a ho-hum affair that frequently relies on stupidity to drive the action (hidden cell phones ringing at inopportune times, cops thinking they hear Rutledge’s desperate cries for help but then deciding it was nothing after all, etc., etc.).

The blond surfer-looking Teddy Sears actually has a somewhat credible Ted Bundy thing going on and Julianne Hough does serviceable work as the reasonably proactive Rutledge. However, his attempts to goad her into some sort of self-assertive survival mindset jut ring false.

Technically, Curve is competent, but undistinguished. Somehow Kimberley Lofstrom Johnson & Lee Patterson’s screenplay is both underwritten and over-written, depending on how you look at it. There is worse stuff out there, but Curve just isn’t worth making any effort to see when it releases today on regular DVD.

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