Deepwater (DVD)

And here's another film going straight to DVD that's better than a lot of recent theatrical releases. Is this a sign that the cinema system — mostly owned by major studios — means that these sorts of lower-key movies don't get a shot any more? It's a shame if that is the case - although it also means that any lingering taint the 'straight to DVD' label has should dissolve rapidly.

Deepwater follows classic US indie themes: a drifter, a small town, a sexy woman, a mysterious alpha male... on that level, this is not what you'd call original. However, there is something fresh in the telling, performances are sound — as you'd expect from a cast of excellent character players like Black, Coyote, Berkeley, Ironside etc, — and the climactic twist is deftly handled.

Nat Banyon (Black) is the aforementioned drifter, a petty criminal who saves the life of Herman Finch (Coyote). Finch is the alpha male character, the king pin of Deepwater, a smalltown off the beaten track. He offers Nat a job as a thank-you, with food, lodgings and a car to keep as his payment.

But Finch isn't all he seems. He's a nasty piece of work, controlling the town with his twisted games and, while he's busy doing that, Nat embarks on an affair with Finch's beautiful young wife Iris (Maestro). The two are extremely careful, Nat then can't be sure if Finch's suggestion of a boxing match is the older man flexing and preening or the older man planning his revenge. The conniving Iris though has a plan that makes Finch's motives irrelevant. If Nat can just knock Finch out, that will give Nat and Iris the time they need to empty the safe and leave Deepwater forever.

So, the classic elements, plus passion, the potential of cross and double cross, bluffs, sinister secondary characters, and a series of odd deaths that seem to implicate Finch. Plus a fine twist, the aforementioned quality performances, and all crammed into 93 beautifully shot minutes. It's pretty hard to fault that formula.

EXTRAS *** Deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette. Solid extras for a more than solid movie.

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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