Don't Let Go Movie Review
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So, the first thing you need to know about Don’t Let Go is that there is a lot of talking. Like, a lot. Like if a playwright started penning screenplays, where there is waaaay more talking because the playwright forgot he was writing for the screen and not the stage, there is that amount of talking. Unfortunately, it drags what is potentially a fun little speculative flick.
Detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) gets a call from his niece Ashley (Storm Reid) during the investigation of a crime scene. Inconvenient, sure, I mean who wants to talk to a teenager while you’re investigating a multiple homicide, except it’s her murder he’s investigating and she keeps calling. Ashley hasn’t died yet – not on her end in her present, his past, and Jack has mere days to stop it from happening all over again – but when you do everything right, is it enough?
Because this road is very familiar and you’ll know who’s responsible pretty much right away, pat yourself on the back for being a heartless, case-hardened curmudgeon, but the fun really is only trying to begin, or at least it tries to get off to a solid start. The problem, and it’s a huge problem, is that there is so. much. talking. I’m noticing this with theater people who go into movies as actors, screenwriters, and directors. They want everyone to talk (ACTING), except in an action/fantasy/horror film, lots of talking kills the pace and your audience wonders when to feel excited again (see Hallowed Ground, 2019 – yakity schmackity). If you’ve seen Rings (2017), another of Jacob Aaron Estes’ writer/director credits, you noticed the extensive monologuing some characters were prone to give. Diatribes are fine in dramas, not so much in horror/action films.
You ever been on a roller coaster and you’ve crested that first giant hill and you throw your arms up for that exhilarating plunge down and the car rides slowly along an unseen plateau and you’re waiting for the drop and you’re still on a plateau and you shift in your seat and you put your arms down and you wait a few minutes and FINALLY there’s the drop? No, you don’t because that never happens. No one would ever ride that roller coaster. That’s how Don’t Let Go feels as the tension mounts. It reaches a certain point and stalls and you can feel the audience losing interest. They know something is about to happen, but it’s taking forever to get there. We’ve got more than a handful of scenes that drag out the tension in ludicrous ways that are both unrealistic and, frankly, downright stupid. For example, if you get shot in a police station, and I don’t think they’re going to let you contaminate the EVIDENCE ROOM with your bleeding, gaping wound.
You’re probably going to read other reviews that make comparisons of Don’t Let Go with Frequency (2000) and See You Yesterday (2019, currently streaming on Netflix) which I won’t make because I never saw either one of them. I think you can probably trust those people.
Briefly, I want to talk about the soundtrack, because I don’t often notice it in movies unless it’s really annoying or poorly mixed. Ethan Gold scores this film and I haven’t yet decided if I liked it because it had enough staccato to create aural tension or that it was unobtrusive enough to only make itself known during moments where the lull in the action seemed to go on forever. I’m willing to check out the soundtrack when it drops on August 30, 2019.
Drew Daywalt of Fewdio, Fear Factory, and Camera Obscura (YouTube, 2010) has a story credit in this and I can see where his earlier horror influence might have better made its presence known. Don’t Let Go wants to be deeply unsettling, but it never quite gets there. It feels leggy and gangly and might have benefited from either a script doctor or maybe Estes watching a few dozen horror movies to see what pace looks like.
*shrug* I dunno.
Don’t Let Go is rated R for swears, people getting shot, dead body, bleeding bodies, lots of blood, dead animals, animals being hurt, kids being hurt, and the longest drawn-out ending for a drama/horror/sci-fi film ever.