The first half-hour or so of Getaway feels very familiar. There are three menacing hillbilly serial killers living out in the woods and three nubile young women enjoying a weekend in a nearby cabin. What happens next seems pretty obvious, but director Lane Toran, who co-wrote the script with Jaclyn Betham, still manages to crank the creepy factor up high enough to make you squirm before anything really happens. Then the hillbillies kidnap one of the girls, string her up in their barn like a deer about to be gutted and start explaining how their kidnapping, rape, and murder of young girls is really just “doing the Lord’s work”.
And they are so damn disturbing that all you can think is, somebody needs to kill these freaks.
Well, stay tuned because it is just about at this point that Toran moves away from the familiar to create a much more interesting and, ultimately much more satisfying story of revenge. And it all starts with the attitude of their victim, Tamara, played by the film’s co-writer Betham. Most horror movies have the woman being held captive weep and wail, beg forgiveness and, when the torture begins, scream and scream again. Not Tamara. As if sensing that their religious fervor is just a cover for their intellectual shortcomings, she starts playing mind games with her hillbilly captors like a cat toying with a mouse. It’s an empowering moment. And it’s just the beginning of what Getaway has in store.
The seeds of confusion that Tamara plants in the bad guys’ minds soon start to bear fruit. Unexplainable phenomena start to haunt them. At first, it’s just strange noises they can’t explain. Then they start experiencing weird visions and visitations. It’s as if the restless spirits of the women they have killed are coming back to haunt them. And then…
It’s at this point where the words SPOILER ALERT should flash across the screen because Getaway is not nearly through messing with your expectations. But instead of giving it all away, here are some more reasons to watch it for yourself.
Although this is Toran’s directorial debut, he shows a sure hand behind the camera. The way he builds tension is admirable, as is the way he gives the three leading ladies in the film enough time to build personalities that go beyond just potential victims. Too few horror movie makers take the time to do either of these critical elements well, concentrating too much on the ‘action’ of the kill instead. Toran, whose acting resume ranges from voice work on the Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold! to guest appearances on Nashville and Tell Me a Story, also plays one of the hillbillies in the film. And he’s pretty darn terrifying.
The three actresses in the movie — Betham, Scout Taylor and Landry Allbright — are strong and iconic. They are also believable, meaning their characters look and feel very natural up on the screen. They aren’t trying to be something they are not, like teenagers or other horror movie trope. They are just young women enjoying each other’s company, women who will fight back, and fight back hard when they feel threatened. Horror movies can use more women like them.
Halloween’s Scout Taylor-Compton stars in an unnerving kidnapping thriller from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Landry Allbright (“Star Trek : Picard”), Lane Tolan (“Hey Arnold”), Jamil Walker Smith (“Stargate Universe”), Jaclyn Betham (“The Haves and Have Nots”), Ben Deschaine (Super Shark), and Chrystopher Ryan Johnson (“The Riches”) star in a Lane Tolan film.
Betham and Toran wrote the script.
Getaway is available on DVD and Digital April 14 from Uncork’d Entertainment.
- John Black, Getaway (2020)