John Beaton Hill’s directorial debut “Wolves of Savin Hill” was recently screened at the IFS Film Festival in LA and is currently doing the rounds on the US festival circuit and the film makers were kind enough to send over a review copy for me to take a look at.
The film follows 2 former childhood friends, Tom (David Cooley) and Sean (Brian Scannel), who’s adult lives have taken very different, but equally turbulent, paths following a traumatic childhood incident that took place on Savin Hill, in Boston Massachusetts back in 1985.
Tom is a deadbeat ex-convict, who’s been in and out of trouble with the law for most of his life and struggling to stay on the straight and narrow. Sean, who is married to Tom’s sister, is a corrupt detective, working for the LAPD, who’s more interested in ripping off the criminals he’s investigating, rather than putting them in jail.
When Tom flies out to LA, following the death of his sister. He ends up getting involved in a botched heist, which Sean had planned with some of his corrupt cop buddies and unwittingly takes the fall for them. But after miraculously getting paroled, and suspecting that his sisters death was no accident, decides its time he and Sean had more than just a ‘friendly chat’. But it seems Sean’s Demons are returning to haunt him and his murky past may catch up with him before Tom does.
Described as a thriller-drama-horror, the film is not what I would call a horror movie and I was hesitant as to whether it would be appropriate in reviewing it here, being more of a gritty crime drama. Yes there are some scenes where Sean is being tortured by images of the past that have come back to haunt him, but its not as if anything supernatural is going on.
The films low budget is rather obvious, not that I hold that against it and having reviewed many low budget films over the years, it was refreshing to see a cast that could actually act. David Cooley doesn’t have many credits on his IMDB page, but was surprisingly good as the deadbeat Tom. Sharper eyed viewers will also recognise a number of familiar TV actors in supporting roles, such as Jack McGee (Rescue Me) and Kurt Fuller (Supernatural, Psych).
It must be said though, that this is not the most original of movies. But, it is clear the film makers’ hearts were in the right place and tried hard to bring their vision to the screen with the limited means available. Some scenes are quite atmospheric, such as where the troubled Sean is driving round at night, but then some scenes look like they couldn’t afford a camera tripod, such as where Tom is talking to his parole officer, which looked rather shaky.
However, where I think the film falls flat is it never really seems to build to anything. It takes rather a long time setting up the characters and how their lives are falling apart, but then doesn’t really go anywhere. Which made this feel more like a TV drama than a feature film. Also, large portions of the story are told in flashback and the constant cutting back and forth gets a bit confusing after a while.
That’s not to say that this is a bad film of course, but whether you will like this will depend on whether you enjoy low-budget crime dramas.
“Wolves of Savin Hill” has been shown at both the San Diego film festival and the IFS Festival in LA and should be out on DVD soon.
View the trailer on YouTube.
You can also follow director John Beaton Hill on Twitter