What is it with movies about affluent White kids not “having enough,” and then killing their parents? It’s been a running theme in Hollywood since the trial of the Menendez brothers back in the early 90s. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up any spoilers here as this is the entire premise of The Grand Son, by director Robert Logevall.
The story revolves around Tod (Rhys Wakefield) and his sister Lani (Fabianne Therese) who, for reasons not stated in the film, live a very privileged life in the Hollywood Hills with their grandmother Judy (Lesley Ann Warren). Judy who was once a big-name movie star is now reduced to hosting a failing QVC type shopping show and is on the brink of losing her mansion and most of her money.
From the very beginning of the film, we get the sense that Tod and Judy have a very “weird” relationship… to say the least. He acts more as her assistant and caretaker than grandson. There’s also a very uncomfortable Game of Thrones-ish type vibe with his sister Lani that’s sprinkled throughout the film as well.
“…a very uncomfortable Game of Thrones-ish type vibe with his sister Lani…”
We have the perception that, though this “family” is wealthy and maybe a little eccentric, things still feel a little normal. Until one morning, Tod, while playing around with a gun he found in Judy’s room, shoots her in the back of the head in the middle of their conversation. From this point on is the story of will he get caught, or won’t he. And more importantly, does anybody care enough about Judy for it to actually matter.
This movie was a perfect example of “hit and miss” for me, but I will say that it was more of a hit. Mainly because of how strong the performances were.
Rhys Wakefield is an amazing actor who does more with this role than the script really allows. He plays the part of Tod with such duplicity that you can’t really tell whether he intentionally kills Judy, or if it was an actual accident. And the tension of the scenes where he’s about to get exposed was played to absolute perfection.
“…how dark it is…not talking about the tone, but the actual lighting.”
Another performance that stands out was that of Judy herself. Lesley Ann Warren is an industry heavyweight! And though she wasn’t in the film for very long, the scenes she did have really painted the picture of a sad, fading star trying to desperately to hold on to her former glory. Though she is in a very tragic situation, she never gives you an opportunity to feel for her because of how despicable she acts towards everyone in her life.
The only thing that hurts this movie, and tremendously so is, how dark it is. Not talking about the tone of the film, but the actual lighting. There are some scenes where you literally can’t make out anything and have to strain your eyes on most scenes that aren’t blatantly shot in daylight! Which is a shame, because other than that, I would have given this movie a much higher score.
I would still recommend The Grand Son as a solid watch. The stakes always feel high, and though it could have been a very predictable film, it makes interesting choices and goes in a direction I didn’t think it would go.
The Grand Son (2018) Directed by Robert Logevall. Written by Abram Makowka. Starring Rhys Wakefield, Fabianne Therese, Lesley Ann Warren, Sarah Clarke, Nathan Keyes.
7 out of 10