Oh what a tangled web we weave…
Director Jon Hewitt, who has plenty of experience in the genre, has returned with a new dark thriller, ACOLYTES, which follows a group of teens who blackmail a serial killer.
By far one of the best films I’ve seen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Hewitts film is cold, hard and quite intricate. The logline might look simple, but SP Krause, Jon Hewitt and Shayne Armstrong’s screenplay is pretty complex, which is the films only real downfall. What ACOLYTES really comes down to is HOW and WHY the three teens end up blackmailing the serial killer. The film delves into the psyche of a teenager and tries to construct a scenario that is not only interesting, but also believable. The end result is something overly complex, when it didn’t need to be. But it’s still hard to fault the film for these flaws considering how well developed the characters are and how interesting the scenarios get. If there was a middle ground to be found this might have been superior – and I stress the word might.
Like previously mentioned, it’s really hard to frown on the film for being overly complex, considering how filled out the movie is. There’s not a dull moment as the screenplay is very well written, suspenseful, sexy and smart – all of which are accented by the superb directing, cinematography and acting.
Filled with a bunch of freshman actors, Hewitt handles them with ease and transforms what could have been disastrous performances into some that are quite riveting. Other than the over-the-top story, these kids bring a high level of believability to a film that needs it more than anything. The acting in a film of this magnitude is the glue that holds the entire picture together – it never loosens for a second in ACOLYTES.
If there were a film to compare this to it would be both this year’s DEADGIRL and previous Midnight Madness entry ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE. There’s a distinct look to the film that seems to be the new cool these days. It’s cold, dark, gritty and also looks extremely expensive. The cinematography is stunning and helps keep the audience on the edge of their seat through the entire thriller. Hewitt also brings out his artistic side by creating captivating opening credits, while during an intricate point later in the film, he uses a mesmerizing strobe effect to create a high level of suspense. Without a shadow of doubt, this is the work of a seasoned director.
Overall, ACOLYTES is a superb film that deserves a lot of respect. It shows a high level of competence in the directing styles of Jon Hewitt, while the experience of his previous works have proven to have helped him build into a soon-to-be famous director. While the film is a little too loaded in the plot, it still is incredibly intense and quite entertaining. You’ll be immersed in the film from start to finish, which is one of the most important aspects of any viewing experience. Consider this film a huge success and accomplishment and make sure to check it out as soon as you can, it won’t disappoint.