By Don Simpson | November 17, 2014
Directors: Zeke Hawkins, Simon Hawkins
Writer: Dutch Southern
Starring: Jeremy Allen White, Logan Huffman, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Pellegrino, Jon Gries, William Devane
Set in a rural South Texas town, Zeke and Simon Hawkins’ Bad Turn Worse examines the domino effect of decisions made by three close friends. It all starts as B.J. (Logan Huffman) steals $20,000 from his 69-obsessed, sociopathic boss, Giff (Mark Pellegrino). B.J. presumably makes the choice to steal the money in order to take his girlfriend Sue (Mackenzie Davis) and best friend Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) to the Gulf Coast for a last hurrah before they leave for college. The sublimely uneducated B.J. knows full well that once his two only friends leave, he will soon be stranded alone in this podunk cotton town with one career option: cotton.
When the three friends return home from their weekend excursion, Giff (Mark Pellegrino) is in the midst of a violent rampage, attempting to track down the stolen money. After another fateful decision is made, B.J., Sue and Bobby find themselves dangerously indebted to Giff. They are left with only one foreseeable option, to steal from Giff’s money-laundering boss, Big Red (William Devane). As you can probably guess, that option does not work out very well for them.
A gritty neo-noir drenched in pulpy undercurrents, Bad Turn Worse is propelled by the life-altering decisions made by the three young protagonists. While subtly touching upon economic and intellectual disparity, the Hawkins brothers — following the lead of screenwriter Dutch Southern — focuses on the ways in which lies and betrayal can tear a perfectly good love triangle apart. Armed with well-phrased dialogue, the screenplay really allows all of the actors to shine. Logan Huffman and Mark Pellegrino get to play different shades of unbridled unlikability, while Mackenzie Davis and Jeremy Allen White are given opportunities to play empathetic characters who still make questionable choices. Most importantly, it is hard not to appreciate the strength and reason that bookishly beautiful Davis gives to the lone female character.