A protagonist’s early reference to Jim Thompson sets the tone for “Bad Turn Worse,” an above-par genre indie about crime, class and loserhood in a small Texas town.
Directed by newcomers Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins, the story centers on three friends in their late teens: nowhere-bound, destructive B.J. (Logan Huffman), striving, decent Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) and B.J.’s romantically shifting college-headed girlfriend Sue (Mackenzie Davis).
After B.J. robs sociopathic Giff (Mark Pellegrino), Giff forces all three young people to steal money from his gangster boss (William Devane). Complications and betrayals occur.
The screenplay provides nothing extraordinary, and the heist and love-triangle elements feel frustratingly familiar at times. Yet the Hawkins brothers make the action compelling, nicely capture small-town dead-endedness, and provide emotional voltage throughout.
Peformances, too, are impressive, with Pellegrino a standout as the baddie.
Bad Turn Worse
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Jeremy Allen White, Logan Huffman, Mark Pellegrino
Written by: Dutch Southern
Directed by: Simon Hawkins, Zeke Hawkins
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes