“This sky’s gone out…”
Hazel (Thorne) suffers from severe agoraphobia, which has left her trapped in her room, but her mother, Dee (Sedgwick) has finally succeeded in convincing Hazel to seek treatment. A ride is arranged to a treatment centre in the middle of the desert: to help Hazel cope, she’ll travel in the blacked-out back of the van, with her mother up front. However, on the way, the van is ambushed and another passenger kidnapped. The perpetrators, brothers Jesse and Pru (Grillo and Tveit), shoot everyone else to cover their tracks, but don’t notice Hazel in the back. Dee is badly wounded, and their only hope of survival is for Hazel to overcome her fear and head out across the wide-open landscape for help. However, the brothers have realized they left some loose ends, and Pru – who has significant mental issues of his own – is sent back to tidy up the survivors.
Cutting to the chase here, there is limited entertainment value to be found in watching someone stare and their feet and move, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, through the desert. I get that they are struggling with their condition, but that doesn’t make it interesting to watch: I was painfully reminded of Roger Corman’s The Trip, one of the very few movies I have walked out on, which consists largely of watching someone else take drugs. I’m also a little bit unsure about what this is saying about agoraphobia. The film appears to suggest that all you need to overcome it, is sufficient incentive, and that feels a bit like somebody yelling “Cheer up!” at someone with depression. Credit for having a heroine with such an obvious disability, and Thorne does a decent job at making her a sympathetic LEAD, even if the reason for it also feels like it falls into the realm of cod psychology. Though probably not so much as Pru, whose issues, it turns out, were the result of being hit in the head with a garden tool.
The film is obviously trying to draw a line between him and Hazel, but the script seems to lurch between the two pairs of characters, as if unable to decide whose story it wants to tell. Things happen for no particular reason than because the film decides they need to, such as Dee finding a gun in the van, and the film crawls towards its obvious climax at about the same pace as Hazel crossing the desert. Quite how such an obviously half-baked script ever managed to make it to production, I’m not sure, but you’ll probably end up wanting to lock yourself up in a cupboard – or, at least, as far away from the film as possible.
Dir: Jorge Michel Grau
Star: Bella Thorne, Kyra Sedgwick, Frank Grillo, Aaron Tveit