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Rotary Action - helicopter movies
cast: Katie Lowes, Patrick Scott Lewis, Brendan Michael Coughlin, and Mary Alexandra Steifvater
director: John Rebel
78 minutes (15) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail
review by Paul Higson
High concept, low budget... The formula for success taught to newbie screenwriters and filmmakers is one of keeping it small. Restrict most
of the shoot to one tight location and a small cast. The formula has had its successes from
Reservoir Dogs to
Cube, but shoving a few people in a lift, or trapping them in a
bank vault, is not the whole story. Detail and character become important. John Rebel's Bear goes the small design route with four
people, one car, a bit of desert floor lost in the night, and a vengeful bear that is a mix of effects teddy and real teddy. This is not only
the pr�cis but pretty much the entire film.
So, two brothers are reunited. Sam (Patrick Scott Lewis), materialistic and older, is joined in the back seat by his girlfriend of five
years, Christine (Katie Lowes), while the pup of a brother Nick (Brandan Michael Coughlin) is back from his travails and dreams of pop
stardom with a feisty new girlfriend, Liz (Mary Alexandra Stiefvater). Tension stifles the cubic capacity of the vehicle. The brothers fail
to see eye to eye on anything. Sam, a high earner, is miffed at his brother's laissez-faire attitude and unrealistic fantasies. The love
has slipped out of Sam and Christine's relationship and the timing couldn't be worse as she believes that she might be pregnant. The new
couple are all over one another to the embarrassment and discomfort of the others.
Nick leaves the main auto-route motorway and takes to the brush. They are delayed and, as night falls, a mama bear plays peek-a-boo; Sam
panicking and emptying a gun into the big creature, killing it. The dead bear's incredibly pissed-off mate shows up immediately and 'the
terror' begins. There is not a great deal that the writer can do with the premise but to turn the vehicle on its side and then knock the
vehicle onto its roof. It cannot kill anyone off too quickly as it would leave too few bodies behind to take up the slack, and slack it
most certainly is. The moment one death occurs the movie would have to enter hysterical mode and the scriptwriters would lose the bitter
banter that that they so clearly enjoy and which bungs the big spaces in the meagre storytelling.
The four characters are hardly likeable, the story is slight and the night, incompatible with the digital camerawork, smothers detail. The
end of the film is depressingly listless and even that final option open to the makers is not taken up and the gory horror of the maulings
is denied the viewer.
Co-written by Ethan Wiley, who is a bit of a name from 1980s' whack-job horror films, Bear has none of the nightmare-flecked
imagination and nonsensical chutzpah that he was previously associated with. His old cohort Chris Walas is brought in for some of the bear
effects. Not only is Bear an example of a minimalist production concept but it also pitches in with recent creature threat flicks.
It is a dust-floor attempt to reproduce the horrors of Black Water
but that was a small film that took a considerable effort to film and the real grist of that process is captured in the finished film.
Bear is a meandering and inconsequential, more filler than thriller.