Writer/director Nicholas Woods’ Echoes of Violence is a taut revenge thriller with occasional moments of dark humor. It is headier than the usual offerings in this subgenre, looks great, is well acted and directed, and offers some intriguing subplots.
Job-hating real estate agent Alex (Heston Horwin) is trying to show a remote property in Sedona, Arizona, when he hears gunshots ring out. Brandishing a pistol of his own, he goes outside to find a bloodied man attempting to kill a bloodied woman. After he runs the man off, Alex takes the woman, Marakya (Michaella Russell), to the property, where she tells him she is undocumented and implores him not to call the police. After much debate and bargaining, Alex agrees to drive her to Los Angeles to retrieve her personal property, but the immigration lawyer and sex trafficker (Taylor Flowers as Anthony) who arranged the unsuccessful hit on her already has an ex-Marine turned assassin (Chase Cargill as Kellin) and a second party searching for her. Further secrets are revealed, alliances are formed, and death is on the march.
Echoes of Violence examines moral ambiguity with some of its main characters, and although this is not new to revenge thrillers, it does so with at least one character in an initially subtle and ultimately successful way. Marakya’s reason for seeking revenge is also different than viewers will find in the subgenre and a hint about exactly what it is gets mentioned earlier on in an awkward, even rude, moment of conversation, paying off well, if disturbingly, when it is ultimately revealed.
Woods unfolds the proceedings at a determined pace and in a nonlinear format, which leads to some true surprises and different ways of considering characters. The emphasis in the film is more on motivation and emotion than it is on the actual acts of violent revenge, though fear not, there are a good share of those. Sten Olson’s cinematography is crisp, capturing everything from the wide desert landscapes to closer shots of the bloody acts magnificently.
Echoes of Violence puts forth several subplots with a sizeable cast of characters, but Russell, Horwin, and Cargill carry the majority of the film, and they all do a terrific job in their roles. Russell brings a sense of determination and strength, as well as vulnerability from being blinded by her revenge seeking, to her character. Horwin is solid and sometimes hilarious as the audience surrogate and highly reluctant man caught up in the whirlwind proceedings, and Cargill is intense as a man who needs to do whatever he can for quick income to pay for his father’s surgery.
For a stylish, intelligent revenge thriller, Echoes of Violence gets a solid recommendation from me. On the strength of its performances, direction, story, and production values, it is well worth seeking out.
Echoes of Violence screened as part of Cinequest Cinejoy, which ran online from March 20–30, 2021.(4 / 5)