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Movie Review: “Beside Still Waters” is a Promising Directorial Debut for Chris Lowell

Chris Lowell is most popularly known for his role on Veronica Mars and The Help.  But now he’s stepping behind the camera and taking a shot at directing/screenwriting.

After his parents’ recent passing, Daniel (Ryan Eggold) struggles to find closure.  He invites six of his old friends to visit for the weekend, so that they can say goodbye to the lakeside cabin they spent the majority of their childhood in.  Attending this somber reunion we have… the old flame (Britt Lower) who has brought her new flame (Reid Scott), the jackass (Beck Bennett), the free-spirit (Jessy Hodges), the high school sweet hearts (Will Brill and Erin Darke), and the TV star (Brett Dalton).  Needless to say, the weekend creates drama, rekindles a romance, and reveals “shocking” secrets.

I’m aware we’ve seen this many times before, i.e. The Big Chill, and even the recent indie, drama that came out this past August, About Alex.  So why is Beside Still Waters worth watching?  Because Chris Lowell manages to successfully portray a genuine group of friends who are struggling with their own issues while trying to be there for the one that needs them most.  This is not always the case with films that touch on the same premise.  Take About Alex; their reunion was forced because of a friend’s suicide attempt.  Sounds interesting enough, but sadly, About Alex chose to engage the audience with numerous, unresolved issues that lead nowhere versus any real character development.  This is where Lowell differs.  He keeps his storyline simple and does not veer from the growth of his characters, allowing us to care for each one of them.

Solid performances are given by the entire cast, effectively balancing their selfish tendencies with compassion.  In addition, the film fittingly includes subtle flashbacks of the group when they were kids playing in the cabin.

Beside Still Waters may not stand out as a significant film, but Lowell’s first attempt at writing and directing shows potential for great things to come.  Don’t turn your nose up at the familiarity of this movie, there’s enough authenticity and heart to make it an enjoyable watch.

Rating: 3/5

Beside Still Waters is now playing in select theaters and VOD.

“Beside Still Waters” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Besties” is a Friendship I’m Glad to be Done With

For many of us, films about the overly obsessive best friend who eventually goes on to have a psychotic rampage tend to be an enjoyable guilty pleasure.  However, director/writer Rebecca Cutter fails to give an equally entertaining script with her latest project.

Besties tells the story of Sandy (Olivia Crocicchia), a dorky underclassman who idolizes the babysitter that has lived next door to her for years.  Ashley (Madison Riley) is a gorgeous, fun, and popular senior.   She is also manipulative bitch.  On the night that her dad goes out of town for work, Sandy excitedly asks Ashley to baby-sit her.  Ashley takes advantage of this opportunity to throw a party in which a destructive ex makes an unexpected visit.  When things get out of hand, the night ends with deadly results.  To make sure she never reveals the secrets of that night, Ashley entices Sandy with a “friendship” she wouldn’t dare want to risk losing.

The premise sounds interesting enough.  I even appreciate the slight originality of role reversal with who is actually good and bad in this film.  Movies like Single White Female and The Roomate focus on the pretty and sweet girl who has unknowingly become a victim to the crazy, obsessive new friend.  Sandy is very much the victim in Besties.  The problem with this film, in comparison to its predecessors, is the tamed and boring actions that follow after the two girls become best friends.  Yes, Ashley is mean but there really isn’t a boiling point for Sandy that makes the audience: one- want to sympathize for her, and two- really want her to overcome Ashley.

Maybe if there were more talented actors, the movie could have been a bit thrilling.  Crocicchia was tolerable, but her attempt to act drunk was almost as embarrassing as watching Bobby Soto try to play a convincing love interest for her character.  A couple shots of vodka for Crocicchia, and a few acting lessons for Soto could have made for a better film.  Thank goodness for Riley’s performance as the conniving antagonist.  She is truly the only reason I was able to keep watching this movie.  Although, if Ashley’s mom (Jackie Debatin) and Sandy ’s dad (Corin Nemec) would have played a bigger part, I think we could have had an interesting side story.

Besties is a low-budget drama/thriller that starts out with so much potential, but falls incredibly flat.

Watch Besties on demand at phase4films.com

 Besties Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com