Wounded by a recent divorce and haunted by a tragic event in his childhood, Eddie returns to his hometown hoping to pick up the pieces of his broken life. Unable to cope, he attempts suicide and winds up in therapy, where desperate to fill the void in his heart he falls for Amy, a mysterious and young wild flower. But something dark and sinister lurks in Amy's past, will her love save Eddie or will it devour his soul?
April 12, 2016
Why are so many of the sub-par films so much longer in their running times than the really good ones? Give me more of the great and less of the least. Is that so much to ask?
The recent release, The Conduit wasn’t all bad, but it was most definitely not worthwhile.
Eddie (Wes Martinez) returns to his small town, after a divorce from his wife and the inheritance of a large and semi-lush home left by his late aunt. His aunt raised him, after Eddie’s mother shot Eddie and killed Eddie’s father and sister. Eddie is extra-messed up following the divorce and with the help of his best friend Mark (Chris Cox) tries to get his life back on track. After an emotional and drunken call to his ex-wife, he attempts suicide by a pill overdose. Flash forward a bit and he’s in group therapy where he meets Amy (Monica Engesser)– a heroin addict and potential girlfriend material. She moves into the vast, unfurnished house with Eddie and Eddie begins to experience nightmares and sleep paralysis.
There’s some decent acting in The Conduit, but I’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s focus on the lead, Wes Martinez. He executive produced the project, so I can kinda read between the lines and see how it was that he ended up in the starring role. He’s got a couple of good moments – certainly the aforementioned drunken call and tearful breakdown in its aftermath – but other than a few isolated episodes, he has zero screen presence. And with the help of the film’s overlong 101 minute running time, his performance serves to drag down the film’s flow, pace and the audience’s overall experience. There’s no personality, no bold character choices and no urgency in anything he does – it’s all very blah. Of course, it’s not as if he’s a mumbler – you can completely understand his dialogue – but his physicality and painful lack of oomph for Eddie – leave you with the feeling that indeed, he actually mumbled through his portrayal. It’s just a boring and uninspired performance.
On the good side of the acting, Chris Cox as Eddie’s best buddy Mark, delivers the finest performance in the cast. Mr. Cox’s IMDb shows only one credit – The Conduit – which makes his fine work here, all the more impressive. He brings real loyalty and concern to the cliché “best friend” part.
As the drug-addicted and mysterious Amy, Monica Engesser brings some great moments to the film as well. The extended montage of her trying to go cold turkey and kick her heroin addiction, is a standout. She’s also appropriately creepy and menacing as needed.
The film looked pretty good. Nothing particularly remarkable about lighting or camerawork, with the exception of one stellar moment in a later chase scene (pictured above). A figure ascends a staircase and with the way it’s lit, shot and choreographed, one could swear (like I did upon seeing it) that they’d seen it before – perhaps in the iconic moment of the infected theatre patrons rising up from a staircase at the end of a long hall in Lamberto Bava’s Demons. Whether it was a conscious homage or a fun happenstance, it looks a heckuva lot like that haunting moment from the Italian horror classic. Equally as creepy here in The Conduit.
I’ll be honest, I was on board with the film at the very beginning. I was intrigued by the situation, interested in the characters and impressed with the set-up. But then it started to drag. Things refused to happen and it became irritatingly clear that Mr. Martinez wasn’t just in the initial funk of his character, but that this low-key character choice was gonna stick around for the entire time. Bottom line – I gave the film a chance and it failed to keep me. It’s a sad fact that if a film has you at the beginning and loses you – you’ve failed even more-so than perhaps a film which sucked eggs from the get-go. This makes it even more painful for the audience, knowing that the filmmakers – to once again use one of my tried-n-true go-to’s and borrow from the classic television show, Get Smart – “Missed it by that much.”
Location-wise, the filmmakers found a gem in a small Arizona town. Seemingly open access to the downtown businesses helped to generate true authenticity. And Eddie’s home, as well as the amazing urban studio space of fellow photographer Astrid Flowers (played by Carrie Fee) – both offered lush and detailed habitations for the characters. A true kudos to the folks who found the locations.
The dialogue didn’t stand out as bad or good, but the story was a real dragger. And it could have been my own shortcomings at play here (frankly, my mind began to wander at around the 90 minute mark – perhaps earlier), but it wasn’t totally clear who was “the conduit”. There’s an attempt at a surprise ending, but it didn’t pay off, nor did the prologue of Eddie’s encounter with his gun-wielding mother (revisited a couple of times throughout the film) ever come full circle. With what felt like an attempt at an It Follows-ish transfer of some type of unnamed evil via sexual intercourse, the explanation was either not clear enough, not good enough or too late in the story to make any difference.
Despite a couple of decent ingredients (namely the performance of Chris Cox), The Conduit isn’t really worth your time. I’ve seen better. You’ve seen better. Save your time, pass it by and leave yourself open to what ever else may be coming down the conduit of upcoming horror releases.
The Conduit is now available on DVD/VOD.