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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.15.14] post apocalyptic horror action thriller

In a dust stricken valley a teenage girl and her ill boyfriend, fight to survive in a post apocalyptic world where it hasn't rained in a decade. She's camped out on an old farm that has a working well but it's not clear how long Kendal and Dean can survive and avoid detection by both scavengers and a man who has twisted religion for his own means and is slowly taking over the valley by driving out the few remaining families. This is the world of The Well.

I know what you're thinking: been there, done that. Truth is, you're right. What's worse is that Thomas S. Hammock's debut as director doesn't offer a new angle to the story in any sort of way. It's clear from early on how this is going to play out and though The Well does seem to be taking an unexpected turn at the beginning of the third act, it wraps up in the exact way you'd expect it to and that's a bit disappointing.

Admittedly, it's not breaking or even bending any rules in the PA-desert-survival handbook but that's not to say The Well doesn't have some good going for it. First and foremost is Haley Lu Richardson who pretty much carries the movie. Not only is she onscreen for most of the running time, she dances circles around everyone else; good thing too because if the movie relied on some of the supporting players in any sort of larger way, the entire thing would fall apart. Then there's the fact that the movie looks really fantastic. Likely one of the reasons it looks so great is that Hammock comes from a production design background and the movie certainly benefits from his expertise.

Beyond its good looks, The Well doesn't have much going for it. The story gets boring and repetitive 20 minutes in and when the big baddie finally arrives on the scene and you think the movie might be taking an interesting turn, he talks some religious mumbo jumbo that just made me roll my eyes. Bit player Michael McCartney is pretty terrible here as are pretty much all of his henchmen and women who look and act like second rate facsimiles of better villains.

I was hoping for more from The Well and though it's not terrible, Richardson's performance along with Seamus Tierney's beautiful cinematography and Sarah Broshar and Adam Wingard's editing certainly keep the energy going, overall the movie is a bland and largely forgettable new entry into the subgenre.

The wait continues for both The Young Ones and 2015's return of Mad Max.

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