Thursday, June 25, 2015

Come Back to Me - Review

Come Back to Me (2014) **
D: Paul Leyden
C: Katie Walder, Nathan Keyes, Matt Passmore, Laura Gordon, Maura West

Plot Synopsis: Sarah & Josh are married suburbanites. After a car accident, Sarah suffers blackouts & ends up pregnant though Josh is sterile. As her life spirals, she hides a camera in her home & unlocks a horrific secret with far-reaching consequences.

Review: What I'm about to say might seem off topic, but hear my out. Back in 1999, I saw The Talented Mr. Ripley for the first time being unaware of the source material and the previous adaptation entitled Purple Noon. In the film, Matt Damon played a lowly man who finds himself mingling with the upper class. However, when his very existence was threatened, he resorts to murder and all sorts of double crosses & manipulations. The film put its antagonist front & center and it gave us an understanding of who this person was and why he did the things that he did, even if the things that he did were clearly wrong and reprehensible.  

In terms of plotting, that's a cue that Come Back to Me should of followed. At first, this plays out like a mystery with some elements of domestic drama thrown in. While the drama elements eventually serve a purpose, it takes far too long for their intent to become clear. As for the mystery elements, it's pretty clear who the villain is from the get go and that he's up to something dastardly. All that's left is the for the protagonist, a housewife trying to piece together what happens to her when she has unexplained blackouts, to catch up to what the audience already knows. 

Instead of wasting so much time, Come Back to Me should have put its antagonist (played by Nathan Keyes) front and center, in the way that The Talented Mr. Ripley did. Even some of the great horror films have token this approach. Halloween is a prime example. We see Michael Myers kill his sister. We see Michael Myers escape from an asylum. And through the character that Donald Pleasence portrayed, we learn why his doctor is convinced that Michael Myers is this evil presence that's beyond redemption.

Come Back to Me, on the other hand, tries to hide who the characters are, why they do the things that they do and, ultimately, what happens as a result of there actions. All of this is in some attempt to surprise the audience with various plot twists. A plot twist might give you an "aww moment", but too much screen time is wasted in service of those plot twists. Instead of keeping the antagonist in the background to act menacing whenever the score calls for it, why not put him in the forefront? The backstory surrounding this antagonist and some other worldly elements that come into play in the latter half of the second act are far more compelling then the mystery & domestic drama narrative that the film serves us for over 50 minutes of its running time.

In spite of the film's many flaws, I could appreciate that the film tried to give us mystery, drama and horror all wrapped up in one package. I could appreciate some of the plot twists, even though they don't work in the long run, because it shows to me that writer / director Paul Leyden obviously had some ambition. I could also see where the film tried to take some risks and push the envelope. All of these qualities are quite commendable, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that in terms of plotting, execution and overall approach that Come Back to Me doesn't have a clear grasp on the material at hand. Interesting characters, that come alive on screen, are always a far more worthy endeavor then trying to hang all of your cards on a plot twist that keeps the story from being developed in a meaningful way. [R] 90 mins.

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