What indie films lack in budget, they more than make up in good, solid storytelling. This is especially true in Dave Lugo and Matt Schwartz’s indie thriller Welcome Home. Jordan Tisdale plays an Afghan War veteran, Cooper Higgins, who returns home after suffering P.T.S.D. on the battlefield. He received a little bit from his late mother’s life insurance policy, so he gets himself into therapy with Dr. Philips (Michael Potts). Cooper hopes this will help him cope with his memories, and we learn that maybe his P.T.S.D. stems from a much darker place.
Finding himself leaving one battlefield for another, Cooper immediately gets in trouble with the local bad guy, Gunner Hansen (Eric Roberts). He literally owns the town because everyone either owes him a substantial financial debt or relies on him for their daily drug habit. Gunner is not too pleased that Cooper is back in town… not only because he’s black, but due to the reason Cooper left in the first place. He has a tight grip on Cooper’s ex-girlfriend, Christie (Chloe Hurst), and her brother, Trevor (Gore Abrams). Gunner holds Trevor’s drug addiction and insurmountable debt over their heads. With Cooper’s return, Christie wants to be done with the drug dealer once and for all, but it requires that she pays off Trevor’s $50,000 debt.
Welcome Home is a gritty, indie thriller that could easily be a big studio production. But thankfully, it isn’t, so the film still has a heart and maintains its good blue-collar story as its foundation. Right off the bat, we have a hero in Cooper that we sympathize with and root for. Tisdale plays him perfectly as a man who wants to start a new life with the woman he loves. Yet, fate refuses to ever give him what he wants without suffering significant loss first.
“Gunner is not too pleased that Cooper is back in town…”
On the other side of the spectrum is Eric Roberts. He’s not here for a mere cameo and easy payday. His part is meaty, and he refuses to phone in this performance. Although Gunner is an over-the-top racist, Roberts makes the role ruthless fun. He’s a guy who gets off on power and influence and delights in knowing he controls everyone in this small town. Most importantly, the actor brings much-needed gravitas to the entire production. If you ask most actors, they’ll tell you they prefer playing villains, and Roberts is clearly having the time of his life.
At the end of the day, Welcome Home is a well-constructed thriller with solid storytelling that wins. Our protagonist is placed in an almost impossible position and must fight with every fiber of his being to come out on top. Cooper is given just enough hope to keep him going. Two steps forward, three steps back is the motto that keeps him from finding his happy ending, and we’re there every step (misstep) along the way. In the end, the movie masterfully balances hope and heartache.
Are you tired of the overproduced and unbelievable Hollywood thriller? Then you’ll find Welcome Home is much-needed indie comfort food while giving off an authentic independent spirit vibe worthy of your attention.
For more information about Welcome Home, visit its Movies Plus page.
"…an authentic independent spirit vibe worthy of your attention."