The Pinch

When a low-level mobster is nearly rubbed out by the boss, he decides to take the bonus promised to him by force.

Here is a film so earnest in its intentions, so determined to deliver high-octane, darkly comedic thrills, it’s easy to forgive most, if not all, of its shortcomings. Ashley Scott Meyers, who produced, wrote and directed The Pinch for a very modest budget ($250,000, according to IMDB), put together an energetic yet unoriginal piece. It’s more entertaining to watch for the things it screws up than for the bits it gets right. Boosted by a committed lead performance, it may not play in theaters anytime soon but serves as a half-decent show-reel of Meyers’ skills.

“…sedating his boss and keeping him hostage in his aunt Margaret’s house.”

Rob (Gunner Wright) runs errands for the sinister mob boss Kain (James Aston Lake) in the Southern California valley. Rob’s wife Gina (Candice Bolek) just wants to lead a quiet life, while satisfying him sexually, of course. “I have a surprise,” she says, scantily clad in her introductory scene, “it involves my mouth and your penis.” They get their chance to do just that when, after a deal goes awry, Kain offers Rob and Gina $500,000 to disappear in South-East Asia. Of course, it’s a total ruse, and after Kain’s unsuccessful attempt at killing Rob, our hero takes matters into his own hands, sedating his boss and keeping him hostage in his aunt Margaret’s house. With Kain’s mobsters on his trail, Rob has to figure out a plan to get the promised cash and escape to blowjob paradise.

Supplemented by Rob’s hilarious, train-of-thought-like narration, The Pinch is chockfull of delightfully low-budget moments. A man gets knocked out by a trash bin. A jump scare involves a washing machine. A nerdy neighbor’s throat gets slit for no discernible reason. There are a side-splitting torture-by-drill sequence and obviously-digital bullet wounds. Meyers’ passion for Tarantino is evident in a multitude of scenes, from Kain ranting about how bad Priscilla’s pizza tastes (“Get that shit out of my face!”), to his henchmen’s “witty” banter, to a comical sound-bite (ding!) that complements a pointed wink one character gives another. Cute.

“…more entertaining to watch for the things it screws up than for the bits it gets right.”

The action sequences are hilariously edited; even funnier are the awkward Steadicam pans. All the colorful visuals are over-saturated to compensate for poor production values, and a cheap Casio score fades in and out randomly (sound issues permeate the film). The supporting performances are serviceable at best.

With nods to Misery, Gunner Wright actually turns in a decent performance amongst all the shlock – I can see him leading a Hollywood action flick – yet Meyers, well, Meyers doesn’t quite get there. While his self-awareness is laudable, perhaps Hollywood is still out of his reach – but that’s okay. Let him keep making Z-grade, bargain bin exploitation movies like The Pinch. To quote one of his characters, “You just wait. Everything will be super grandtastic, baby!”

The Pinch (2018) Written and Directed by Ashley Scott Meyers. Starring Gunner Wright, James Aston Lake, Candice Bolek, Terrell Dixon.

5 out of 10

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