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‘Wichita’ (review)

Produced by Justyn Ah Chong, Yaniv Elani,
Nate Gold, Matthew D. Ward
Written by Matthew D. Ward
Directed by Justyn Ah Chong, Matthew D. Ward
Starring Trevor Peterson, Persia White,
Caitlin Gerard, Demetri Goritsas,
Christopher Wolfe, Melinda Lee, Sondra Blake

 

The creator of a once-successful, now-flailing kids’ show is given an ultimatum: make the show work again or you’re gone.

In order to achieve this, the execs force the creator, Jeb (don’t call him Jebediah…), to go to a remote house in the woods, along with several other writers, to write all thirty episodes of the new season in one month.

Jeb arrives before the others, all the better to plant hidden cameras to spy on his co-workers.

Though upon their arrival, the disdain most of the writers have for Jeb is immediately quite clear, even before Jeb spies on them without their knowledge.

The obviously unstable Jeb rapidly unravels as the pressure to deliver mounts and the others’ morale begins to erode.

Not-bad premise for a low-budget, dramatic horror film is boosted by good performances, especially by Trevor Peterson as Jeb. Looking a bit like a scruffy, hipster version of Art Hindle, Peterson dives right into the Creep Factor and rarely lets up.

It’s an especially solid performance considering the character isn’t all that believable on paper. Peterson does a good job attempting to sell the character’s seeming reversals and at times impenetrable motivations, but the hardest thing to swallow for me was that someone this unhinged was able to hold a steady writing job in the first place.

I suppose we’re meant to see that he’s reaching the end of his rope at the start of the film, but I found it difficult to even imagine a backstory wherein he created a hit show and kept it going.

Other character motivations, especially toward the end, are even more problematic (there are a couple of eye-rolling moments here). And I felt by the time the credits rolled, Wichita didn’t really add up to much or bring anything new to the “stalker” or “cabin in the woods” subgenres.

Peterson’s performance makes the film worth a look, and it’s more than competently put together, but the whole thing feels passionless, as if everyone involved really wanted to make a movie and it just happened to be this one.

Wichita is now playing On Demand

 

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