After a series of negative events, a young woman rents a house in the countryside to go clear her mind and get ready for a fresh start. Once at the house, the man renting it gets more and more interested in her for reasons that she cannot possibly guess. His mental state deteriorating, he starts putting into action a plan that will take them both down a dangerous path.
Written and directed by Richard Bates Jr, Tone-Deaf is a thriller with clear horror influences and some seriously interesting imagery adding an almost bizarre flavor to everything. The film is built in a way that could easily have been annoying or gimmicky with the bad guy breaking the fourth wall and having mental images that are bizarre and entertaining. This character is something else and yet everyone knows someone like him. The writing for this character and the lead is solid with the both of them feeling like people you might have met at some point in your life. The direction takes the writing and brings it to screen in a manner that adds interest and has a clear goal and direction.
Leading the film are Amanda Crew as Olive, the young woman wanting a nice quiet weekend of rest and nothing to do, and Robert Patrick as Harvey, a man who basically hates younger generations and wants to try a few new things before being too hold and who’s mental stability is wobbly at best. Both of their performances carry the film and give it something that makes the viewer stick to the screen to see everything that goes down and how they are going to face off. Crew gives a performance that connects with this viewer and will connect with a good part of the audience. Chances are, if she does not, Patrick’s performance will be the grounding one that attracts attention and keeps it. Together they create a good balance and a back and forth that makes the film interesting to watch. Their performances are the central ones, but there is also Hayley Marie Norman who plays Lenore, Olive’s best friend who is a firecracker and a fun character to watch. She brings that extra little thing to film and does so with a glee that is fascinating to watch. The cast as a whole is great as well, giving the film strong performances as base for the entire film and story to rest on.
Supporting the story and particularly great is the score by Michl Britsch and the soundtrack choices. The song choices are fun and go well with the character of Olive, creating a soundtrack that is reminiscent of late 90’s films and their trendy yet fun soundtracks. Here the songs are mostly current and the music adds to them by fitting in nicely and actually adding to the film and its story. Pairing well with the audio are the visuals with cinematography by Ed Wu and editing by Yvonne Valdez. They create images that make the story and characters fun to watch, giving each of them and the locations a chance of shine and tell their own stories. Their work is fantastic in the trippy dream sequences for Harvey, which could be hallucinations or due to his mental state, giving the film a little extra something that is surprising at first and then becomes something more as the film advances. These visuals and music help create a film that is easy to watch and enjoy.
Tone-Deaf is a great film with a story that is just twisted enough to keep the attention while filled with great performances and some seriously fun and weird imagery. The film makes the most of ideas that may seem seen before with a great way to present them and a cast that really goes for it. Tone-Deaf is a film that is better seen on a slow night, with a drink, and a mind to enjoy yourself.