‘Don’t Tell a Soul’ Is An Intense, Atmospheric Thriller

Mangano Movies & Media

Don’t Tell a Soul, a psychological thriller with a classic Cohen brothers vibe, is simply incredible. With a lean 83-minute runtime, the short-but-sweet feel of the screenplay is eclipsed by fascinating characters and some delightful twists.

Set in a dying factory town, the film follows two brothers — Joey (Jack Dylan Grazer) and Matt (Fionn Whitehead). Joey is shy and lovable, Matt is abusive and insufferably crass. Joey and Matt’s father, an abusive alcoholic, has died and they have been left to take care of their mother, Carol (Mena Suvari), who is suffering from lung cancer.

In order to get much-needed funds to supposedly pay Carol’s hospital bills, the brothers decide to rob the home on a local woman who has Alzheimer’s. The residence is being tented for a termite infestation and they decide it’s the perfect time to liberate $10,000 in cash the old lady has stowed away. After getting the money, the boys turn around to leave — only to be stopped by a security guard named Mr. Hamby (Rainn Wilson). A chase through the nearby woods ensues and only ends when the unfortunate guard falls into a well.

Thinking they’ve committed a perfect crime and not wanting to any witnesses to screw things up, Matt tells Joey to leave the man there to die. Joey, feeling deeply conflicted, refuses to give up on an innocent man. This is where the real fun begins.

The cinematography was phenomenal and the setting of a gloomy, smokestack-filled factory town really brought home the absolute bleakness of the brother’s situation. The music, suspenseful and with a slight retro feeling, perfectly captured the ‘90s-esque Midwestern crime caper atmosphere the filmmakers seemed to be shooting for.

I’ve been a fan of Grazer since seeing him in Shazam! a couple years ago. He is the true star of this production, turning in another standout performance fraught with a certain innocence and heartfelt clarity. Whitehead also did a great job and I enjoyed seeing his character develop, particularly during the climax of the film. That was another thing, the climax — holy smokes, what an ending. Things were really firing on cylinders by this point and it shows in every shot.

I give Don’t Tell a Soul four out of five stars.

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