Review by Cole Groth
What? Saying I’m lost on what happened in Pursued would be an understatement. This thriller, directed by Jeffrey Obrow, has virtually zero information available online, and it’s probably better that nobody knows about this. While the production quality isn’t terrible, this movie is a total waste of time that’ll leave you scratching your head, rolling your eyes, or both after a thoroughly unpleasant experience.
Pursued follows Lark (Madison Lawlor), a teenager who goes on an online hunt for a man who turns out to be a vicious serial killer. What seems like fun and games to Lark quickly turns into a fight for her life, leading to a trail of blood that follows her. For a horror/thriller, this premise works pretty well. Unfortunately, it’s tied down through a terrible script and a confusing story.
If there is one redeemable aspect, it's that the gore is good. If this were marketed as a slasher and felt more like one, this would receive much praise for being a solidly intense experience. Some of the kills are creative and shocking, which will appeal to horror fans who love shocks above anything else. If anything good can be taken out of this experience, it's that somebody was really passionate about a gross sense of humor.
Back to the criticisms, this story stinks. One of the core elements is the use of social media, and Jeffrey Obrow has absolutely zero idea of how social media works. While some of the interfaces look decent and stray away from cheap knockoffs, it looks silly almost every time a screen is shown. None of the characters seem to understand what they’re doing, making progressively dumber decisions as the body count racks up. It’s no fun to watch idiotic teenagers get other people killed.
The cast isn’t great, either. Molly Ringwald is advertised as a star but leaves after the first twenty minutes and never appears again. If you’re going to promote her as a bigger character, it would make a lot more sense to at least film more stuff with her. Angus Macfadyen is pretty terrifying as the killer, but his character is so one-note that it’s just not very interesting to see him when he’s on screen.
This feels like a movie that was cobbled together through many different production companies, directors, and writers. The first act leans into the teenager coming-of-age drama stuff but suddenly turns into a thriller after the first few minutes. The only time audiences will be intrigued by what’s happening is when the first tone switch happens because it’s so ridiculous.
Low-brow horror films are a dime a dozen. Every year, slop gets cranked out with low budgets and even worse scripts, making Pursued a forgettable experience because even as a bad film — it’s not notable. It’s hard to believe that people with a passion for moviemaking sat down and wrote this script, filmed these shots, and edited this together. There’s something to be said about putting pride into your work, and unfortunately, this is an embarrassing attempt at filmmaking that will go unseen by many.
Pursued screened at the 2023 Make Believe Film Festival, which runs March 23-26 in Seattle, WA.