THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"EDGE OF WINTER"
Edge of Winter is an astoundingly misbegotten film. Director Rob Connolly and his co-writer Kyle Mann repeatedly display a complete lack of understanding about how to tell a story. They throw a bunch of things up on the screen, with no justification for why any of it is there. This is the kind of movie where you spend as much time looking at your watch as you do looking at the screen. It's that tedious.
Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) plays Elliot Baker, a divorcee who wants to strengthen his relationship with his two sons, 12-year-old Caleb (Percy Hines White) and 15-year-old Bradley (Tom Holland, who so winningly played Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War). He gets his chance when his ex-wife and her new husband go on vacation, leaving the kids in his care. Elliott takes the boys into the woods to learn how to shoot a gun. They have a car accident on the way back and take shelter in a nearby cabin. It quickly becomes clear to Bradley and Caleb that their father is more than a little unhinged.
There's no suspense in Edge of Winter, partially because it immediately and unmistakably stacks the deck. Elliot is portrayed as an angry, unemployed, beer-guzzling, gun-loving redneck, so we know from the get-go that he's dangerous. He is a stock character through and through. Despite Kinneman's dedicated efforts, there is no reason to follow this guy for ninety minutes because we know everything there is to know about him in less than two.
In fact, his malice is pretty much all there is to the movie. There's no plot to speak of. Elliot takes the boys to the woods and we wait for him to go berserk, which he does. A couple of hunters show up, for absolutely no reason other than to give him someone to overtly terrorize. The boys see that their dad is nuts and are afraid. This leads to...well, you couldn't even call it an ending. It's more like an abrupt halt. Edge of Winter simply stops, with a final scene that resolves nothing, leaves tons of questions unanswered, and isn't even remotely satisfying. You'll want to throw things at the screen as it fades to black, guaranteed.
On top of all this, the film is fairly appalling in the way it exploits the sight of scared children. Edge of Winter seems to take glee in showing Bradley and Caleb fearing for their lives while stranded with their insane father. That might have worked if the picture had anything whatsoever of value to say about parental neglect, but it doesn't. Consequently, there's an uncomfortable, queasy tone that precludes any sort of entertainment.
Aside from the performances (which are passable given the wildly inferior material), Edge of Winter is thoroughly incompetent. It is a thriller with no thrills, a drama with nothing believably dramatic, and a story of fathers and sons that chooses exploitation over substance.
( out of four)
Edge of Winter is rated PG-13 for language and some violence. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.
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