Sundance 2015 Review: Reversal

Perhaps the most surprising feature showcased at Sundance this year is the unfortunately low-brow Reversal. Letting the side down for the otherwise impressive Park City at Midnight, J.M Cravioto's tired, faux female-empowerment revenge flick gets too bogged down in its convoluted, heavy-handed plotting and fails to impress.

After waking up chained in the basement of a twisted captor, Phil (Richard Tyson), Eve (Tina Ivlev) turns the tables on the man who kidnapped her - yet uncovers a conspiracy that implies she is not the only hostage. Eve forces her captor to take her to each of the victims, uncovering some troubling home truths.

With a lack of visual panache, Reversal feels like a contemporary exploitation flick in concept but ultimately falls prey to a repetitive narrative structure and flat direction. Keith Kjornes and Rock Shaink Jr.'s screenplay opens with quite an inventive twist in seeing the captive readdress the power balance, but gradually turns formulaic as we see Eve and Phil make continual stops at various locales of missing girls.

Considering the exploitation-leanings of the story at its heart, Reversal is surprisingly poe-faced in tone and delivery - never fully engaging with the potential fun that could be had in a larger than life horror-revenge flick. However, Reversal does attempt to tackle wider contemporary issues (which I won't reveal for spoiler's sake), but refuses to treat them with the gravitas and seriousness that they deserve, which results in a watch that feels tonally off-kilter.

Tina Ivlev does her best to keep proceedings engaging - the actress has a gutsy likeability and is sure to draw immediate comparisons with Jennifer Lawrence's Katnis Everdeen. Sadly with heavy handed flashbacks jarring into the narrative every so often - it is hard to believe that the sweet young girl seen previously is now the take no prisoners bloodthirsty revenge-seeker.

Reversal is sure to find an audience amongst hardened horror fans, but collapses under its repetitive structure, and fails to embrace the gritty fun of the exploitation film. Praise should go to the soundtrack which gives prominence to stodgy Scorpion's classic Winds of Change, however.
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