Friday, January 19, 2018

Rock Steady Row (Slamdance 2018) - Movie Review

The Movie: Rock Steady Row

The Director: Trevor Stevens

The Cast: Heston Horwin, Diamond White, Logan Huffman, Allie Marie Evans, Larry Miller

The Story: Rock Steady Row centers around a young college freshman who, after his bike is stolen, lands on a college campus and is compelled to take action against the reigning fraternities and ultimately the dean.

The Review:
First time feature director Trevor Stevens draws a lot of influence and inspiration from all over the Hollywood landscape and fills his film with an edgy attitude and tongue in cheek style that lets you know not to take any of it too seriously. The story is set in a dystopian future where the college experience has been reduced to fraternity fights and bicycle theft although the arrival of a fearless freshman with an oddly powered Walkman cassette player shakes up what has been the status quo.

"If you think education is expensive. Try ignorance."

Yes, there's a lot of originality to the story and it's never quite what you expect it to be which is definitely a good thing. The run time is also less than an hour and a half which keeps things moving along nicely and avoids getting bogged down with too much exposition, back story, or unnecessary character development. You really don't need a ton of information to understand what this movie about and the director makes sure everyone involved in making the film knows it, too.

The primary characters are all very familiar in how they act and even in how they appear which makes it easier to understand quickly who they are. Heston Horwin plays "The Freshman", I'm not sure if we ever hear his name although it is in the credits, the brooding anti-hero a la Tom Hardy as Mad Max in Fury Road with a bit of Chris Pratt's Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy thrown in via his trusty Walkman cassette player and headphones.

"I want you to hit that motherf*cker so hard his afro falls off!"

The two antagonists in the movie are the leaders of rival fraternities played by Logan Huffman and Isaac Alisma, the former being a sort of adolescent take on Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight and the latter mostly reminded me of Laurence Fishburn in Spike Lee's School Daze. Diamond White, who is primarily known for her outstanding singing abilities, is featured in the lead female role and this super talented young woman just might have a second career on her hands.

Side notes: Long time Hollywood writer and director Tom McLoughlin has a really cool supporting role that includes a nice twist at the end and I did notice a "Wilhem Scream" thrown in during one of the fight scenes. Google it if you don't know what that is.

The Verdict:
Rock Steady Row is the bad ass indie action movie I never knew I wanted to see. The story is just to the left of reality with pencil kills that both The Joker and John Wick would be proud of and an outlandish villain that suffers a similar fate as Tarantino's Stuntman Mike. Shout out to the ladies on that one. On his first go around as a feature film director, Trevor Stevens' world premiere nails it and mic drops the Slamdance Film Festival before it even gets started.

Rock Steady Row is an official selection of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA. coverage of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival presented by DGA.

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