On his way in to the office, Teddy (Chris Bauer) comes across his buddy Richard (Currie Graham) waiting at a bus stop. Naturally, he stops and offers Richard a lift that the latter gladly accepts. Knowing it’s a Monday and knowing that their upper management will be too tied up with meetings to pay any attention to their comings and goings, Teddy takes them on a detour. He drives to a scenic and secluded spot in the woods where he sometimes goes when he needs to get away.
Unbeknownst to Richard, however, this detour is a trap…which he realizes only after Teddy’s clubbed him over the head and he wakes up tied to a tree. Richard has precisely thirty-six minutes to live, Teddy tells his erstwhile pal; the exact same amount of time as the long-ago recess in which Teddy believes Richard raped Teddy’s childhood girlfriend Claire when they were all kids.
Director J. Michael Couto takes that old cliche of low-budget filmmaking, the one about using a minimal cast and limited locations, and carries them out to almost absurd lengths in “Angel’s Crest.” Here’s a movie with two — count ’em, TWO — speaking parts and essentially one location, which is the minimal-lighting-required woods. Filmmaking literally cannot get any more Spartan than that, boys and girls.
Which is why it’s so shocking that “Angel’s Crest” is as captivating as it is. Credit here must go to the actors, as nothing else (and especially not Couto’s occasionally muddy attempts at non-linear storytelling) can explain it. This film should be boring as hell. Yet somehow, miraculously, it isn’t. Instead, “Angel’s Crest” is an intensely unnerving thriller that reminds everyone that things aren’t always as they seem.