Echoes of Violence (2021) [CineQuest 2021]

A real estate agent meets a woman in the worst circumstances she could possibly be in. With some coaxing, they both travel to Los Angeles so that she can take revenge on those who have put here where she was when he found her.

Written and directed by Nicholas Woods, this crime thriller is a low key one at first that seems to head more into drama territory as the leads meet in unlucky circumstances and neither knows if they can trust the other. The way the film takes these two unlikely partners and makes them work together shows something interesting in that it’s not based on wanting to do this and, while there is a certain obligation, there is also an odd need to help that seems to come from both of them. The film doesn’t fully explain everything and it leaves some of the human connections to be more seen than explained and it gives the characters more credit than most low budget thrillers do. Here, things are explained, but not overly so, it leaves some of the understanding left open for the viewer to make up their own mind, at least until later into the film. There is something here where the film does not assume the viewer to be stupid or lacking attention. This helps the story greatly and helps elevated the film as a whole above a lot of recent thrillers of its ilk.

The leads play their parts the right way in that they are not overly friendly which fits the film’s themes and their characters’ situations. Playing the lady at the center of everything is Michaella Russell who gives the right performance by showing fear, vulnerability, and conviction in her actions, mixing these throughout the film, making her character a lead who is not a damsel in distress (at least not for long) and is one who truly believes in her reasons and right to do what she is doing. Playing the man tagging along whether he’d like to or not is Heston Horwin as Alex, giving a performance that is a bit more subdued than his counterpart, but his work here works. He’s a quiet guy that gets sucked into a situation that is far from good and who can’t just leave it behind for more than just the obvious reasons. These two leads give performances that keep the viewer interested and watching. The bad guys do feel a bit more generic, but not necessarily in a bad way. Their work is proper for the film and they give off an ominous enough vibe to be effective. One of these bad guys, it should be noted, is played by Frank Oz. Yes, that Frank Oz.

As a film that takes place partially in Sedona, partially on the road, and partially in Los Angeles, the cinematography does great work establishing a mood for each location while also keeping a look that is cohesive throughout the film, even as the locations’ looks and styles change greatly. The work by Sten Olsen with these images is great, especially in the Sedona sequences as they look great and even a bit like proper postcards for the locations. This work helps sell the house they are using in that location as a dream house with amazing views among other things.

Echoes of Violence is a thriller with touches of drama and crime film that works with its mix of genre and a lot of why it works is because of the performances by the leads. The writing and directing of course work very well here, putting together a story that makes the viewer want to keep watching. It’s a low key film in terms of style and budget, but this shouldn’t mislead or stop the viewer from watching it.