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Restraint – 6


Director – David Denneen

Cast – Travis Fimmel, Teresa Palmer, Stephen Moyer, Nate Jones

Release Year – 2008

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Restraint interested me due to its psychological thriller feel, combined with the fact that it came out several years ago and I had never once heard of it(always looking for that hidden gem). While not as horrific as I wanted or expected, Restraint managed to put together an interesting storyline that I had yet to see in the horror/thriller genres, making for a decent effort in the end despite a lack of horror.

On the run after killing two people, small-time criminal Ron and his girlfriend Dale break into a home in hopes of stealing a vehicle, but instead are greeted by Andrew, an agoraphobic. When Ron learns that the weak Andrew is in fact a wealthy weak Andrew, a plan is enacted to withdraw $40,000 to get Ron and Dale out of the country, but Andrew has other plans for them…

One writing tactic that I absolutely love is when criminals find what seems to be an easy break, but instead find themselves way over their heads. I’ve seen this in Deep Rising and many other horror films, and the idea just works in regards to keeping my devout attention. It does not take long for Ron and Dale to break into Andrew’s home and take him prisoner, and while it seems they are in control of the situation it is really the calm and collected Andrew who has the upper hand. I enjoyed this idea, however it was not used in the way I expected. I was assuming that Andrew was either some sort of insane serial killer or someone with hidden badassery, but neither was really the case. As the story progresses we learn that Andrew is in fact not the timid guy he portrays himself to be and that he definitely has a dark side to him, but he never developed into the shocking character that I wanted – instead he wound up a calculating psycho who wanted something from the couple all along and did what he had to do to get it. I personally wished that Andrew would have proven to be a more contrasting character, coming off weak but instead inhibiting hidden strengths, but was in fact weak all along and never broke away from it. There really is not anything wrong with that as it is only my personal opinion, however I feel it made the film just as weak as he was and it suffered boredom at times due to that. Also, there is much that I cannot discuss as I would expose many potential spoilers, so you will just have to see this one for yourself if you seek further plot information.

Restraint marks director David Denneen’s first full-length film, and for a newcomer I found his direction to be fairly good. His atmosphere was appropriate and the sets used were good for the film’s budget, but what really surprised me was the character performances he got from his actors. This being a slow-burning effort with much dialogue, good acting performances are required to keep the viewer’s attention, and he deserves applause in regards to the actors. So how is his execution of the horror/tension? I thought he did well with what little of it the film had to offer. The actors did a great job selling the tension, and Denneen’s execution of everything around them: atmosphere, camerawork, etc.. made for some very engaging scenes that showed the film definitely had the potential to be a better watch in the end.

Overall, Restraint is a borderline-positive psychological thriller that never fully developed into the exciting experience I was expecting. The story stays reserved for nearly the entire effort and the horror that does kick in is fairly tame overall, making for a film I would not recommend unless you need something to fall asleep to.

Rating: 6/10

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