‘Those Who Walk Away’
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Max (Booboo Stewart) and Avery (Scarlett Sperduto) spend their flirty date strolling the quiet streets of a small town. A bomb threat has shut down the movie theater where they were planning to catch “The Evil Dead,” so instead Avery takes Max to the middle of nowhere to explore an old house she says is haunted. There, the two wander upstairs into a furnished bedroom, where Avery surprises Max with a story about Rotcreep, a fiendish entity who she warns is hungry. Like, right now hungry. Talk about leading a guy on.
That’s the setup to this indie psychodrama from Robert Rippberger, who directed it as if it were shot in one take — kind of like “Silent House” meets “Before Sunrise,” but scrappier. Rippberger dots the slow-burn first half of his film with small menacing passages, like a phone call that theatrically collapses time and space. It takes about 40 minutes for supernatural terrors to really kick in, as Max and Avery pass through the doorway and into a fever dream cat-and-mouse game with the grinning creep himself.
Be patient with the film’s leisurely rhythms because the payoff is demented and worth the wait. But I could have done without the score, which is too busy indicating what the naturalistic actors handle effortlessly on their own.