Directed by E.B. Hughes
Shot in mere18 days, “Turnabout”, the sophomore fictional feature from American writer/director/producer E.B. Hughes, is a character-driven crime film whose story unfolds in a single night.
Regardless of the prizes collected in festivals such as Atlantic City, Hollywood Boulevard, Chain NYC, and Philadelphia Independent Film Fest, the film wasn’t able to mask the predictability of its plot and simply didn’t work for me.
The story starts by focusing on Billy Cain (George Katt), a loser who tries to kill himself after taking a bunch of sleeping pills. Leaving his car aside, he walks a mile down the road to throw himself into the ocean but is ultimately saved by two men who were cane-pole fishing on the bridge. With all those pills, maybe it was the cold water that made him stay awake. Still soaked, he makes this unexpected phone call to his high school best friend, Perry (Waylon Payne), whom he doesn’t connect with for 15 years. His voice is trembling and he seems a bit desperate. After all, this is a call for help.
Intrigued, Perry leaves his picky wife Lisa (Judy Jerome) at home with their kid and drives in the middle of the night to rescue his estranged friend.
We learn that Bill is a former guitarist turned into a drug addict. He confesses he was in rehab and that nothing excites him anymore, holding this frustration for remaining broke after working three jobs. It’s noticeable a bit of envy in his eyes since Perry is a well-established optician. While warming up at a local diner, an incident with a teenager will tell us more about Billy’s deceiving personality and unreliable nature. This particular denouncing scene, besides amateurish in its execution, immediately triggers conjectures about Bill’s real intentions and the direction the story is about to take.
Both friends end up in a strip club where Bill spends most of his nights. The idea was just to have one drink and go home, but Perry starts to suspect he was drugged, a fact that doesn’t seem to bother him so much when he has Sherri (Rosebud Baker), a hot stripper, on top of him.
The night party is turned into a terrible nightmare after the two friends take Sherri and another stripper into a motel room to keep on celebrating.
The film succeeds in showing a mundane, underground world dominated by excesses and vicious dark characters. However, on the other hand, it lacks any sort of surprise or even a proper climax. Many scenes are time-consuming, especially the ones involving the girls, having the film stranded in the same monotonous fainted tones and feeling much longer than it really is. For several times, I found myself asking ‘where did I see this before?’.
“Turnabout” is a simplistic and conversational indie thriller whose highlights are limited to Chase Bowman’s decent cinematography and Payne’s mature performance.