THE GRAND SON (a.k.a. American Pets) *** USA 2018 Dir: Robert Logevall. 86 mins
This cynical black comedy played the festival circuit in a slightly shorter, 78 minute version under the title AMERICAN PETS, though it’s hard to see how such an abbreviated running time would help a movie that already feels under-cooked and under-written.
The central scenario is compelling: the excellent Lesley Ann Warren is a washed-up Hollywood actress and now the “star” of a shopping channel show that’s about to be axed. Her emotionally stunted grandson (Rhys Wakefield) – frequently seen practising his crossbow aim – and granddaughter (Fabianne Therese) – who’s banging the help – are embroiled in an act of apparently unintended violence that leads them down a dark moral path. A memorable face in the original THE PURGE, Wakefield is well cast here as the Rolls-driving narcissist with a coat hanger grin, though the movie doesn’t make the most of its impressive older actresses (Warren and, as her boss, Sarah Clarke). The story unravels into a blackly comic pressure cooker of sudden death, corpse disposal and illicit sex, set to an exceptionally evocative electronic score – but ultimately it lacks real punch and feels a bit like a diet version of past forays into the Tinsel Town underbelly like MAPS TO THE STARS.
Review by Steven West