Review by Adam Donato
After over a decade of acting, Cameron Van Hoy sits in the director’s chair for his debut film, Flinch. When a hitman has a witness to his last hit, he kidnaps her and starts to fall for her. Daniel Zovatto, who has small roles in the film It Follows and plays one of the leads in Penny Dreadful, stars as said hitman. Star of I Am Woman, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, plays the assistant turned unfortunate captive. Is this love story of Stockholm Syndrome closer to the romance of Beauty and the Beast or the creepiness of Passengers?
It’s extremely fair to cast judgment upon a forced romance. A story is nothing without conflict, therefore in romance movies, there needs to be some kind of obstacle for the main couple to overcome. The standard romantic comedy expresses this through miscommunications and convenience. Flinch is definitely not a romantic comedy. Being a dark crime thriller about a criminal who meets the romantic interest via being on opposite sides of a crime, things get dicey. For most, any romance that comes across at all as non-consensual is creepy, like Passengers. Those same people watch Beauty and the Beast and think it’s cute how the Beast threatens the captive Belle but is evil due to circumstance. It all comes down to how much the audience likes and cares for the oppressor in the situation. In this movie’s case, Van Hoy toes that line very well.
The style of the movie is reminiscent of a Nicolas Winding Refn film: a story about a seldom spoken anti-hero filled with neon lights and excessive violence. The plot is very simple, which allows time to develop Zovatto’s character of Joe Doyle. His arc throughout the movie borders on terrible until it’s pulled through in the end. It’s very enjoyable to see his relationship with Mia grow as we see what his relationship with his mother is. There’s an argument that this movie has a lot to say about the concept of how a man treats his mother is how he will treat his significant other. Tragic, yet disgusting, Joe Doyle is a sympathetic character.
The film is not without its faults. As much as a homage as it would like to masquerade as, it does come across as derivative. The second act falters in comparison to how solid the first act is and how great the third act becomes. Famous stand-up comedian Tom Segura plays the initial hit at the beginning of the film and is the most notable star attached to the film. His name is on the poster, despite being a minute part of the film. The title of the film and the entire concept of the girl not flinching overplays its hand. The audience understands the point, but the movie shoves it down their throats.
It’s honestly a shame to see this movie not get a big theatrical release. While it may start out as a pretty standard film, it gradually picks up as it goes along. It will be interesting to see where Cameron Van Hoy goes from here. His style is reminiscent, but a second feature would really give critics a chance to see his own voice in comparison. Sometimes coming across as standard, Flinch is surprisingly competent and wraps everything up in a nice little bow. Definitely check out Flinch if it ever comes up on your radar.
Flinch hits VOD on January 21.