Movie, Reviews

“Deserted” Lost in Death Valley

 

After the first 10 minutes getting to know the characters in the movie and finding how they were chosen to be together, Deserted moves into a long grueling predictable story much like the movie Gerry. But, after it got moving along to an unexpected event that sets the tone, the movie isn’t all that bad. If you like films that are more introspective than openly action oriented, than this one should be good for a girls wine and cheese gathering.

Just released from prison after many years, 24-year-old Jae (Mischa Barton) gets picked up at the penitentiary by her brother Robin (Jackson Davis). No grudges between the two as Jae had pulled the trigger on a gun to defend her father from being stabbed by her mother while she was a teen.

Mischa Barton as Jae in DESERTED

Still not completely over the awful event, Robin convinces Jae to get back in society with a road trip to a concert in Death Valley. With her former best friends Rosemary (Winter Ave Zoli), Heather (Dana Rosendorff) and Jasmine (Kelly Brannigan) they take off heading for the most beautiful, but unforgiving desert on the continent. Along the way Robin runs into car trouble and they hook up with Troy (Trent Ford), Wade (Tyler Sellers) and Dax (Michael Milford) who offer them a ride since they are going to the same concert.

Clay (Jake Busey) with Robin (Jackson Davis) and Rosemary (Winter Ave Zoli) in DESERTED

So begins a road trip from which the eight travelers will never recover. First time full feature director and writer Ashley Avis does a good job of creating interesting characters for her psychological drama. Each are people you may have run into sometime in your life and are either sociable or unavoidable. It’s a great group to be stranded with if you are part of the audience.

Although the performances are adequate for their characters, they seem to be each fighting for more screen time. Maybe the script was cut for reasons of time constraints on the part of the actor or Avis overloaded her film finding out that scenes get bogged down with a lot of unnecessary dialogue. It would have been good to find out more about Wade and Dax who seem to just be along for the ride and meant to pair off with two of the women on the trip. Less would have been better here so side stories could be developed much better.

Jasmine (Kelly Brannigan) and Wade (Tyler Sellers) use drugs in DESERTED

The star lead Mischa Barton as Jae starts off good with a depressing look and not recovering too well after her stint in Jail. It’s a good look and offers the audience a chance to understand her spiraling down. Yet she hardly ever changes her character pouting and assertive throughout. Even when she has a chance with Troy, her Jae doesn’t seem to be very thrilled with their interlude.

Avis injects her film with known stars like Jake Busey as Clay, Sebastian Bach as Archer, and Gerry Bednob as Lizard that pop up for a quick cameo role. Jake Busey shows up as a back woods character driving an old pick-up who gives an assist to Robin when their car breaks down. Bach plays the part of a mechanic who offers to fix Robin’s car at a last ditch wayside oasis gas station and bar. And Bednob plays a bartender who offers the girls a drink at the “Last Chance Bar”. Even Lance Henriksen shows up as Jae’s dad.

Deserted has not been rated by the MPAA but contains extensive abusive language, violence, suggestive sex and drug use. You may want to watch the credits for an additional scene if you made it through the film.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A predictable drama with decent acting and tolerable plot.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Mischa Barton, Jackson Davis, Winter Ave Zoli, Trent Ford, Dana Rosendorff, Michael Milford, Kelly Brannigan, Tyler Sellers
Directed and written by: Ashley Avis
Genre: Psychological Thriller
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains violence, rude language, suggestive sex and drug use
Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Distributed by: Invincible Pictures
Released on: Cable VOD and Digital HD, FlixFling, Amazon, iTunes, Dish Network, Time Warner, DirecTV, XFinity, Verizon FiOS and more.

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 10 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com

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