Revenge films are always some of the most interesting to watch. They can be brutally graphic or slightly more tame, but they are always somewhat relatable, just for the sheer fact that the audience can imagine how it would feel to be in that particular situation. From Meir Zarchi’s I Spit on Your Grave to James Wan’s Death Sentence to the newer Blue Ruin directed by Jeremy Saulnier, every revenge film brings something new and exciting to the table. I can honestly say, however, no film of this type has been done quite like April Mullen’s new action thriller, 88.
A young woman comes to in a roadside diner with no idea where she is or how she got there. Split between two timelines, she gets taken on a violent journey as she seeks out the person responsible for her lover’s death.
88 is a fast-paced film that mixes action, drama, and even comedy all very well. With its non-traditional non-linear timeline, things may get confusing, but that’s a large part of what makes this film so unique. The chaotic transitions between present state and fugue state are actually very well thought out and it is clear that the director/writer team of April Mullen and Tim Doiron took painstaking efforts to make sure everything fit perfectly. The result is an amazingly entertaining thrill ride with original content, a fantastic script, wonderful acting, and great practical effects.
The cast of 88 consisted of some great heavy hitters of cinema history, including Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Pirahna 3D) and Michael Ironside (Scanners, Visiting Hours), while also including some very talented younger performers, as well. Jesse McCartney, Kyle Schmid, and even writer, Tim Doiron, all showed their true acting chops. I loved Doiron’s character, Ty, who managed to bring a little bit of fun and lightheartedness to the frantic, out-of-control environment. The standout performance, however, most certainly has to be awarded to Katherine Isabelle.
I’ve always enjoyed Katherine Isabelle’s work. From her early work as Ginger in Ginger Snaps to her portrayal of Mary in American Mary and even more recently in See No Evil 2, Isabelle has always been a strong performer. Still, I’ve never seen her quite as good as I have now. Her dual role as present-day Gwen and fugue state Flamingo is some of the best work I’ve seen. I can imagine a role [or roles] like this being very difficult to execute, but Isabelle did so flawlessly and she was a real pleasure to watch throughout the film.
A lot of the charm that 88 possesses comes from the creative genius of its creators. Mullen and Doiron managed to create an entirely original world inside of their script. With various billboards and signs for brands like “Delilah’s Dairy” and “High Voltage” hair gel, these young filmmakers have managed to introduce the audience to something that they’ve surely never seen before. These original brands, coupled with an original song, which is heard throughout the entire film and also plays a very important part of the story, help create a film experience that can go unparalleled for a very long time. Mullen and Doiron are true students of film and it is clear that they possess the skill to pull off every aspect of film making; They are well aware of how to create the proper mood and make a beautiful movie with more-than-competent editing, cinematography, etc. After viewing this film, I will be sure to visit any and all films that the duo has created together in the past, as I am sure I will be pleased with what I find.
Gore fans, do not dismiss this film. While 88 is not a horror film, it will still please many of you guys who visit this site. There is plenty of blood to go around, but more importantly, it contains an original story that will keep your eyes glued to the screen the entire time. You can purchase a copy of the film on Blu-ray and DVD from Millennium Entertainment on Tuesday, January 6.
I give this film 4.5 gumballs out of 5.