Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train) and writer Christopher Jolley (The Haunting of Borley Manor, The Sanctuary) treat audiences to a crime thriller with criminals who don’t get far enough away to enjoy the loot they just stole. Several things go from bad to worse at the scene of the crime, but if the criminals (and the audience) think the “worse” has happened, well no, not yet. Asking for help from strangers who live in the very remote countryside does not yield the results they hoped for. In fact, their worst nightmare has just begun. I did not read much about the film before viewing it, so I dove in and found why this film was selected to screen at some horror film festivals.
To start, we view a woman who is in an argument with a man one night and he decides to abandon her at an unopen store along the highway. In the shadows of the store a large truck appears to be parked. It is rather predictable what happens next. The audience is now introduced to another female, Grace (Gigi Zumbado, “Bridge and Tunnel” and FOX’s “9-1-1”), who enters a pawn shop with no customers around. Before she can negotiate her account, the shop’s employees are shot. The armed robbers, Alex (Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild), Cody (Stephen Dorff, Blade), and Shane (Tanner Zagarino, Pool Boy Nightmare) take Grace (Zumbado) hostage (predictable – she is a witness, and she has a car – their “getaway driver” left them on their own when he heard shots fired).
Their getaway only lasts so long, as the radiator gives out in Grace’s vehicle. By the time it gets dark, they can see lights in the distance (perhaps a farmhouse) and hope for shelter. A sole teenager on the property, Danny (the late Tyler Sanders, Just Add Magic: Mystery City), appears apprehensive, but allows them to stay briefly while his grandfather is gone. They do not take heed his warning to not be there when the elder arrives. Alex (Hirsch) is the unhinged one of the robbers and is itching to take someone out, as he did in the pawn shop. Hirsch is excellent here as he seems to relish the role of having little to no morality. He seems to care about his brother Shane who was hurt in the process.
Cody wants to keep Grace as a type of bargaining chip as needed if the law shows up. The two create somewhat of a bond, knowing they each have a past to deal with, but in the dialogue, they don’t discuss it. The audience doesn’t know much about these characters through the script from Christopher Jolley. These two actors try their best to make their scenes work, but it is near impossible to when the script is lacking. The director seems to be anxious to skip forward to where Alex has gone to explore and find the teen. He discovers a tunnel that his curiosity can’t resist.
Kitamura’s direction takes Alex down to where he finds another entire world that Danny had been warning them about – leave before grandfather (Vernon Wells) arrives. Yes, there is body horror and fight scenes that provide punches and hard hits that an audience member can imagine the pain. It is not just from grandfather, it is from a tall, strong mumbling woman (Erika Ervin), thus they are very brutal to their captives. The Price We Pay is difficult to watch with the blood-splattering and themes.
It won’t be for everyone, but for those who can handle this level of horror and gore, it is now available on VOD (streaming) and in select theaters on January 13.
The film cast also includes Jesse Kinser, Sabina Mach, and Eleanor Burke.
Rating: R (Gore, strong horror, violence and pervasive language)
Runtime: 1 hour and 26 minutes
Source: Distributor: Lionsgate