Marcks’s clever – well, intricate – but finally disappointing indie debut feature has a fine cast and serious attitude, or at least as much attitude as the loutish young denizens of smalltown Middleton, New England can muster. Take Jack (Henry Thomas), for instance. When, cruising home, drink taken, he hits something – bang on 11:14 – which he first assumes to be a stray deer but turns out to be a young man; he has no compunction in stuffing the roadkill in the trunk for later disposal. That’s insensitive! Likewise, convenience store employee Buzzy (Hilary Swank) agrees, a mite too easily, to have her arm blown off to fake a robbery for a mate (Shawn Hatosy) desperate to fund his corrupt girlfriend Cheri’ s abortion. Isn’t that a betrayal of trust? Even Frank (Patrick Swayze), Cheri’s dad, jumping to conclusions having found his darling, two-timing daughter’s other boyfriend with half his face missing, seeks a discreet burial for the corpse far from the prying eyes of the police. There’s more, but none of it particularly moral.
Marcks mounts all this as an essay in synchronicity, replete with flashbacks, overlaps, connections and black humour. It must have looked better on paper. Swank liked the script enough to have her part rewritten and came on board as executive producer. But there’s something mechanical about the end result, as well as a faint trace of self-satisfaction and easy cynicism. Rachael Leigh Cook is suitably venal as arch manipulator Cheri, there are some outrageous, funny moments and Marcks directs with minor panache. But it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory experience, akin to observing someone else fill in a crossword puzzle.