Nicholas Woods’ sophomore feature-length effort, Echoes Of Violence, wears its influences of Tarantino and Miike proudly on its non-linear, blood-soaked sleeves. Each chapter introduces a new character or shows a scene from someone else’s perspective. Happily, the writer-director brings enough creativity and style to the proceedings that it never feels like a rip-off.
Alex (Heston Horwin) is trying to sell a spacious office in Arizona. A potential buyer has to reschedule, so he goes to check a few things around the property’s grounds. That is when he hears a woman scream. Alex goes to investigate and sees a bloodied man pointing a gun at a lady clearly trying to escape him. The real estate agent helps the woman, Marakya (Michaella Russell), though the perpetrator gets away.
As she’s recovering from the ordeal, Marakya tells Alex that she’s trying to escape a sex trafficker, Anthony (Taylor Flowers). Moved to action by her story and a threatening call from Kellin (Chase Cargill), the man from earlier, Alex is determined to help Marakya. Can the couple, who are obviously attracted to each other, take on an entire mob and survive?
“…Marakya tells Alex that she’s trying to escape a sex trafficker…”
The story holds few surprises, though one involving Kellin’s character works very well. But, an imagined conversation he has with his father absolutely fails. There is nothing like it before or after, so it just feels awkward and out of place. However, the lack of twists and turns is not a bad thing, as Woods wrote very engaging characters who make reasonable decisions throughout. For example, in order to help, Alex must drive Marakya to Los Angeles, and along the way, they swing by his mom’s place to ensure she is okay. It is one small scene, but it fleshes out the world and what these characters value very well. The screenplay also supplies a healthy dose of levity to keep things from getting too grim.
The action is exciting and visceral throughout. The director captures the intensity of what these characters have to go through without forsaking style. An intense moment involving a killer and some of Alex’s clients is shot in a way that only suggests the violence, but it is still quite effective. The ending shootout is dynamic and thrilling, with the audience easily following where each person is and what they are up to.
Echoes Of Violence is also bolstered by its cast. Horwin nails the everyman in over his head that is Alex. His reaction to someone getting killed in front of him (for the first time) is one of genuine shock and is quite believable. Russell is elegant and badass in equal measure as she fights her way to freedom. Cargill gives a nuanced performance of a character that the audience has to both be angry with and come to empathize with. Not an easy task, but the actor pulls it off.
Echoes Of Violence engagingly tells an exciting story full of well-defined characters. Woods stylish directs a solid cast, who handle the action beats well. Sit back and enjoy the exhilarating ride.
"…an exciting story full of well-defined characters."