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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Honor Among "Thieves"? Thriller Manages to Emulate Boyle's "28 Days Later" Amid Plenty of Tension!

"THIEVES" (2013)
Genre: Thriller
Length- 11:11
Company:  A Walk in the Park Productions

Thomas (Quentin McCuiston) is a desperate man who discovers a body in an otherwise abandoned cityscape.  The corpse wears a nice jacket -- and since it's a dead body, it's not much using it anymore, right?

So Thomas doesn't feel much guilt when he decides to take the coat, but he might have thought twice about it had he known he was putting himself on a collision course with the mysterious Raven (Sarah McKenney) and James Carter (Wynn Reichert) . . .

AFTER THE BOOM

"Thieves" comes to us from D. Erik Parks, who wrote, directed and edited this short post-apocalyptic thriller.  On a tiny budget, somehow he, along with Director of Photography Jordan Lynn, has managed to pull off the sort of epic empty civilization shots that Danny Boyle masterfully gave us in 28 Days Later and others have tried so hard to emulate ever since.

Good visual moves, like the camera following Thomas in hot pursuit down a hallway, help to amp up the tension at key points, and give this film the added intensity it needs to survive among an oversaturated post-apocalyptic market.

BEEN HERE BEFORE

The only problem is that we've seen this story too many times now.  It's just been done to death.  When Raven explains what's happened to the world in which our characters find themselves, it has no impact.  Zero.  Because of that, the extended talky sequence in the middle just brings the story to a complete halt.

The story wants to be a thriller, and that pacing issue grounds the story before it has a chance to really start moving.  The last third of the film tries to regain some of that momentum, and it's much to Parks' credit that it does as well as it does.  Visually, we dive back into the tension, but we can't quite make up for what was lost from all that down time.

CONCLUSION

It's important for filmmakers to recognize the genre in which they are working -- what's been seen and what hasn't been seen -- and to make a movie that responds to audience expectations.

That's not quite what we get here.  That doesn't mean it's a bad movie -- it's actually a pretty enjoyable post-apocalyptic thriller.  But with a little tweaking, and more emphasis on action, suspense and thrills and less time spent explaining the world (which everyone who watches these kinds of movies already knows anyway), this could have been a pretty special little flick.

Even so, it's definitely worth a viewing -- check it out!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  Follows all the major plot points of your basic zombie film, minus the zombies -- which makes it far too predictable.  Even so, it works until the less than satisfying conclusion, which is attempting to feel uplifting, but just didn't pay off the way it was supposed to for me.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Parks delivers a tense  visual experience.  In addition to what I said above, I also liked the shots immediately following the gunshot.  Really impressive handheld work.
Editing: 3 / 5.  Good desaturated look -- the coloring is beautiful and adds a desperate feel to the film.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Quiet score, but moving when it needs to be.  The dialogue's audible.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  The acting's decent, but some of the more emotional moments aren't delivered well and it distracts from the experience.

Final Grade: 2.8 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Thieves" and follow the creators on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!