A quick warning to ladies who lock eyes with off-duty firefighters in New Mexico bars: Be careful, as the gent’s uniform and badge might be fake. Also, he may not want to pick you up so much as drive you to a secluded location, then sell you to a buddy who’ll tie you up in a car trunk and facilitate your new life as a sex slave. That’s what happens to Hyun-jae (Jamie Chung), a Korean-American 18-year-old who suddenly finds herself part of a low-rent harem run by a good ol’ boy sheriff (Beau Bridges, in mustache-twirling mode). Renamed Eden by her captors—an ironic moniker, given that she’s stuck in a living hell—this young woman is forced into a world of sickening servitude. Her only escape lies in winning the trust of the unreliable crackhead (Matt O’Leary) who oversees daily operations.
Based loosely—very loosely—on a real-life horror story, Megan Griffiths’s drama works best in its numbing first half, as the contrast between our heroine’s grotty existence and the banal landscape of Americana around it makes you feel as if you’re in a waking nightmare. Then the film decides that it really wants to be a thriller, and once bodies start piling up to a generic indie-twang score and plot turns head south of ludicrous, Eden’s goodwill dissipates. What begins as gritty realism ends up as the usual made-for-cable melodramatics—an apple that’s always better left unbitten.
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