Imagine a plot along the lines of Final Destination without getting to see the deaths and played out by a cast who forgot to emote. Don’t Look Back is a woefully sloppy film that has few bright sparks to speak of.
When Caitlin (Kourtney Bell) overcoming her traumatic past is among several witnesses who see a man fatally assaulted and don’t intervene, they find themselves targeted by someone, or something, out for revenge.
Don’t Lock Back flatters to deceive with ideas that work very well on paper, but when smashed together, become a mess of a narrative that tries to tease its audience down too many avenues. For a film like this, it needs to play it simple as it just doesn’t have the resources to stretch itself the way it wants to. It is shown terribly by the lack of on-screen deaths. This is a safe thriller that tries to discuss religion and karma yet gets distracted with its own story that it never gives those potential themes enough time to shine.
With manufactured cheap scares littered throughout the film, Don’t Look Back becomes a serious missed opportunity to say something somewhat unique. Alas, we are left with a run of the mill TV thriller that tries to engage but fails. There is enough here to see that director Jeffrey Reddick should have a promising future as a director. It is just a shame that this was his debut.
Kourtney Bell is the one true shining light throughout the film, and even then, she struggles due to the clunkiest of scripts. We feel for her, and in truth, without her, the entire film would fall into 27 little pieces. For one, she has enough range to make her believable and all but the final act. You buy that her paranoia and hallucinations could lead somewhere, and if the film had diverted more down that route, then we could have had a solid enough mystery thriller on our hands. Sadly it never does, and all the work that Bell does to have us on her side is wasted here.
The same cannot be said for the majority of the cast due to one major issue. For all of the death and trauma that has been happening in such a short time, there is no urgency and barely any emotion. Compare this to another recent release, Initiation, where the emotions from the cast carried that film. To have next to none present halts us in our tracks as to why should we care. These boring performances severely hinder what should be an interesting narrative.
There are so many plotholes laced throughout the film as well. Our villain is stabbed in the leg and somehow immediately has no limp as they climb up the stairs. Caitlin is seen as a suspect for the murders, yet while the others have 24-hour police surveillance, she doesn’t. When we get to that final scene, well, let’s just say all logic took a jump out the window. These are but a small few examples, but there are so many that you wonder what exactly was going on throughout the production not to catch them. We have an awful film that offers nothing to the audience while nicely shot at times.
With a score that only seems to serve Don’t Look Back as a distraction than accentuate. The sheer overuse of strings to try and bring any form of atmosphere drowns the visuals to the extent that perhaps muting it would be a blessing—the moments where a quiet moment from the score would be perfect never come. Barely a moment goes by without some score playing. The score really needs to take a breath. At one point in the finale, as our killer is chasing Caitlin, a harp is used. At no point does it make sense tonally to the scene we are watching. These bemusing choices hurt an already flawed film.
Don’t Look Back could be a good film, and there is undoubtedly something hidden (very hidden) deep within, yet there seems to be an utter refusal to let that out by sticking to the Final Destination formula.
Dazzler Media presents Don’t Look Back on DVD & Digital Now.
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