Claire (Ashley James) is at one of the lowest points of her life. She walked in on her boyfriend having sex with another woman, and her life in Los Angeles is nowhere close to being what she wanted it to be. Wounded and upset, she decides to escape back to Chicago. Along the way, however, her car breaks down, forcing her to spend a horrifically eventful evening in a strange town.
Megan Freels’ Rebound aims for suspense and thrills, but undermines its own endeavors with a second half that is not as creative or compelling as what came before. The film’s first half, with the build-up of Claire being in a far more dangerous stage in her life than she is aware, bristles with thriller energy. The audience knows things are going to turn bad, the signs are everywhere, and the suspense grows and grows.
But then we see the route the film is going to take, and that suspense disappears. The film falls into a familiar horror-thriller narrative that we’ve seen many times before, and you become less engaged than you were. A film that has built itself up to include a cross-country trip to really extend its own narrative world becomes confined to a single room. Which makes sense; for the indie filmmaker, you make do with what resources you can, and often a single location with limited cast is the way to go.
To the film’s credit, despite those feelings of familiarity, it does end on a fairly interesting note. “Twist” is the wrong word to use here, but it is a variation on resolving the narrative that offers enough pause to elevate the rest of the material. Some could still be dismissive about it, but I appreciated the idea. I also think the cinematography is quality, and technically the film is sound.
In the end, Rebound is a film that builds a solid, suspenseful first half, almost David Lynchian in its strangeness, runs out of steam for a significant chunk of time, yet still wraps up in intriguing fashion. It’s solid enough to merit a watch, but it is at its best when, like Jaws, we don’t see the danger explicitly, we just know that it’s out there.
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