Kevin Del Principe’s dramatic, lo-fi thriller Up on the Glass lacks the courage of its convictions. It contains sequences of raw power and raises pertinent questions about identity, male toxicity, and envy. Yet it ultimately fails to satisfyingly wrap up its intricate set-up, as if the complexity of his creation proved too much for the director. He consequently opted for a purportedly “tantalizingly ambiguous,” abrupt ending that leaves the viewer frustrated rather than titillated. Shame, as it could’ve been a genuinely incisive, scathing little gem, as opposed to an intermittently compelling character study that’s worth a rental.
The story takes place in perpetually-overcast Oceana County, Michigan. Jack (Chase Fein), a down-on-his-luck carpenter who recently got fired, visits his investor friend Andy (Hunter Cross). Andy lives in a spectacular beachfront mansion and isn’t shy about divulging his riches. “You don’t want to know how much money I shelled into this place,” he tells Jack, whose resentment begins to seethe.
“…a down-on-his-luck carpenter who recently got fired, visits his investor friend Andy…”
Andy’s alcoholic friend Moze (Steve Holm) also happens to be staying for the weekend. A sausage fest of sorts forms, as the three dudes visit nearby dunes, play baseball, and go fishing. Subliminal tensions rise. “I only know how to win,” Andy huffs and puffs to Jack during a tense exchange. “Seems easier in a rigged game,” Jack snaps back.
After allowing his resentment against Andy to bubble over, a hungover Moze shamefully departs. A psychological game ensues between Jack and Andy. Jack has a history with Andy’s wife, Liz (Chelsea Kurtz), which doesn’t make things any less complicated. A beach altercation by a fire results in tragedy. Up on the Glass morphs from a psycho-drama into full-blown thriller around the 40-minute mark, with one of the characters dealing with the consequences of said tragedy. When Liz returns home, things escalate further.
"…lacks the courage of its convictions."