'Open 24 Hours'
(Vanessa Grasse, Brendan Fletcher, Cole Vigue, Emily Tennant, Tomi May, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2018) 2020 / 4Digital)
Overview: A young woman, newly-released from a mental hospital where she landed for setting her brutal boyfriend on fire takes a job at an all-night gas station.
Soon, the isolation triggers her paranoia and hallucinations, with devastatingly gory results.
Blu-ray Verdict: In what is writer/director Padraig Reynolds's fourth full-length film, 'Open 24 Hours' is one of those incredibly tight, well orchestrated, low budget suspense movies that takes a simple concept (such as locking in on a primary location and allowing the imposing weather conditions to become one of the main characters) and complete with some rather creatively, and well drawn actor portrayals, allows it to organically become an incredibly tense, unknowingly all-consuming, and quite brutal (whether or not what we see is actually real or in the hallucinating mind of our lead) production of the highest order.
Indeed, and therein lies the brilliant caveat to all this bloody onscreen mess, for it's left up to us, the engrossed (and at times grossed out) viewer, the cinematic interloper, to question what is indeed real verses what might well be going on in the paranoid, delusional and broken mind of our lead character, Mary (Vanessa Grasse, working at full tilt here in her fourth movie).
'Open 24 Hours' (which was so obviously filmed in Serbia that it does somewhat distract a little away from anything found in the US) opens on a quick, and bloody flashforward scene, but soon thereafter takes its own sweet time in setting in motion all the pieces of Mary's life up until her taking the graveyard shift at the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere gas station.
Simply put, after discovering her live-in boyfriend was actually a serial killer of women (35, so they say), Mary set their family home on fire with him inside it!
The trouble was that due to Mary having accompanied said boyfriend (the calm, cool and collected Cole Vigue as James) on some of his latter kills, quite literally watching him perform these acts (which the press then nicknamed her "The Watcher" for), she herself got prison time.
But, now out on parole, and with a grizzled Parole Officer on her case every day, asking for daily check in's, Mary (a chain smoker) gets this low-end job to appease everyone; but moreover to try and start her life anew, whilst still fighting trauma, paranoia and delusions.
Look, I'm not going to plod through every scene, give away crucial moments to watch for (although the scene where James has three of the cast strapped to chairs alongside each other does rank high in my gore viewings now), or even reveal the ending, but with Grasse performing at a high level here, albeit in the outward guise of a young Anne Hathaway, and Emily Tennant playing her friend Debbie, working overtime also to make these best buds realistic, well, combined with the cinematic work of David Matthews, 'Open 24 Hours' never lets you visually break away for one second.
As for that not-to-be-revealed ending, well, all I shall say is that it was a wee bit too ambiguous for my liking. I like a nice, tidy, job done ending, but here it's actually left to the viewer to determine if what they have just witnessed was all in Mary's mind, or has actually happened.
The tacked on 10 second clip (come the fade to black) is needless, in all truth, but might, or might not set up a sequel, I guess. But again, you can add that to the conversation in your head about what you have just witnessed on your own time.
Oh, and in case you are curious, in the Alternative Ending feature, we get to see that our main character actually leaves the gas station, albeit in a complete mess, walking past all the victims into the distance, the movie ending on her doing so! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Extras of:
The Making of 'Open 24 Hours' Documentary
'Open 24 Hours' [Blu-ray] is out now via 4Digital.
Official 'Open 24 Hours' Trailer