In his feature-film debut, actor/writer/director Chad Faust weaves a tale about family, secrets, and the identities that we form as a result of our parents — he truly impressed me in the process. This revenge thriller had a distinct southern gothic edge to its barebones aesthetic and was further accented with notes of horror in its music score. Girl (2020) did not necessarily feel like a horror movie, perhaps due to the lack of jump-scares and screaming, but characters having no cellphone service, as well as the familiar piano organs and high-pitched violins known to other horror classics chiming in to strike up the tension for a scene were incorporated into Girl.
Chad Faust penned an excellent screenplay and created a wild but endearing character, giving this ax-wielding femme fatale grit and allure without making her into some baby-doll badass like Luc Besson and others tend to do – Faust may just have shown that he is better than some celebrated filmmakers at writing a likable female character with Girl. Neither muscular nor sexified, neither over foul-mouthed and masculine nor damsel-like, “Girl” is a well-balanced character, whose determined demeanor bounces off of Faust’s obnoxiously charming character to create some great moments of suspense and entertainment in this movie. There was even one particularly well-choreographed fight scene in a laundromat that I felt was a brave choice since it pitted a man against a woman and looked pretty real.
Girl (Bella Thorne) has only known two things her whole life — how to handle a hatchet, and that her abusive daddy left her and her mama when she was only six years old to fend for themselves. After her mother receives a letter from him, they learn that he wants her mama dead, so Girl decides to take matters into her own hands and resolves to kill him first. Unfortunately, after arriving at his home she finds him already dead and can’t find anyone with answers in the nearly empty ghost town. What she does find, however, are deeply buried secrets that reveal a hidden family legacy of generational curses and tightly held grudges.
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) co-starred in Girl and for once did not command every scene — his ever enigmatic presence was cast opposite Bella Thorne (Amityville: The Awakening, Infamous (2020)), who portrayed the rage and turmoil that was needed to bring her character to life — her performance was refreshing and unexpected. Chad Faust, who I have been hoping to see more of since his brooding performance in The 4400, yet again did not disappoint, not only writing and directing this film but bringing a mischievous, if not sometimes overacted performance as “Charmer”. The supporting cast members in this film were definitely dark horses though, as their roles crescendo from deceptively random to actually important during the course of the film. For all of the tension and rage and thrilling secrets that Faust built into the movie, I felt like the ending somewhat fizzled out in comparison to the dark tone of the rest of the movie, and furthermore, playing “In The Pines”, though an awesome song, is a little played out for every ‘innocent girl gone bad’ character.
It is far from often that you see a female character hunting someone down, hellbent on killing them, especially with the motivation of saving or avenging someone else and not just for money — thank goodness for Chad Faust’s Girl. With the hatchet being a big part of the character, I did think that the movie was going to be a bit more brutal than it was — of course, people die, but Girl is more laid back and methodical rather than being a high body count revenge thriller. In any case, though the movie did not necessarily “go there” visually, narratively, Girl is certainly proof of great things to come from Faust, a reaffirmation of Rourke’s talent, and a great show of range for Bella Thorne — catch the heady Southern-noir on VOD on November 24th.
MOVIE RATING — 7 out of 10