Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: April 10, 2017
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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Richard Bates Jr.

Studio: Circle of Confusion

MPAA Rating: R

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

So Owen (Adrien Grenier) just seems like a flat-out asshole. I mean, yes, he’s bulimic and apparently clinically depressed, but his strained relationship with girlfriend Isabel (Angela Trimbur) doesn’t appear to be helping either one of them become a better person. Attempts at couples therapy don’t do squat, and I swear the first thirty minutes of the movie is just Owen being an asshat to everyone he interacts with, but primarily Isabel. Then Isabel tells him she’s pregnant, and things change rather abruptly.

Far as I can tell, every single last one of Owen’s issues seem to stem from the troubles of his past, wherein a horrendous house fire killed both his parents and caused burn scars on eighty percent of his sister Pearl’s (AnnaLynne McCord) body. She now lives with Owen’s crazy religious fundamentalist grandmother Violet (Fionnula Flanagan), and the two of them seem content to hide from the world and snipe at each-other for the rest of their existence. But then Owen and Isabel make the momentous decision to, despite their misgivings about each-other, keep the baby and attempt to raise it together, so Owen decides he needs to reconnect with what’s left of his family and maybe get some answers as to why he’s so screwed up.

Grandma Violet seems like a fairly standard racist religious nut, most of us have at least one in our own families, and she sure doesn’t welcome Isabel with open arms, especially after hearing of the pregnancy. As far as Grandma believed, Owen couldn’t have children, and taking Pearl entirely out of the equation, that meant this cursed family line would die with him. It isn’t until she primly puts on blacks like she’s going to a funeral and has her own confession in the office of her priest, that we realize the depths of how fucked up Grandma really is. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more flashbacks of the rather threatening confession Grandma gives, more the of the killing fire that led to and from all this madness, but somehow this perfectly-real setting and entirely possible story makes it all that more quietly creepy. And yes, there is a Grandma masturbation scene too, you were warned.

Owen does seem to genuinely care for Pearl, and wants desperately to talk with her and gain her forgiveness before he and Isabel depart Grandma’s house. Forgiveness for what, you might ask? It’s not terribly hard to convince a child that he did something horribly terribly wrong and then blame him for it forever afterward, but that also means Pearl blames him for her face and body aftermath too. Isabel tries to make friends with Pearl and about halfway succeeds, I guess, given that the sister has her own psychosis to deal with.

So where does all this quiet menace and murder attempts and buried secrets leave us? With a dark night of confrontation, shotgun blasts from a pair of surprising hands, and far too many blood splashes on the walls. Being an asshat does not qualify Owen for the killing list, but I guess it’s true his family really is cursed – at least on the women’s side.

Guard your sleeves from the Trash Fire on Netflix!