At the Hola a Mexico film festival in Salinas, California, I came across an unexpected gem called “Oso Polar” (Polar bear). This film was shot on cell phones and is about a man who was picked on by his class during high school who nevertheless offers to chauffer several of his classmates to their high school reunion, The reunited students think good times are about to ensue, but the often-slighted driver has other ideas. The film starts out rather mundanely introducing the characters. However, it soon turns into a low-budget cross between “Donnie Darko” and “The Gift.” The director builds up intrigue here and sets up apocalyptic events, Because of the budget, the payoff is muted. However, “Oso Polar” remains a very effective, well-acted thriller that could definitely give you nightmares! This little film is definitely worth seeking out.
A little movie called “Traffik” slipped into movie theaters a few weeks ago. While not the greatest movie in the world, it’s a lot better than you would think. Based on true events involving sex trafficking in Northern California, the film is about a young black couple (played by Omar Epps and star Paula Patton) who pick the EXACT wrong place to go to for a romantic getaway. Although they were hoping to have fun and solidify their relationship, instead they end up in the middle of a gigantic conspiracy.
See the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz-XiYNCo7o
It doesn’t help that Epps’s brother and his fiancé show up and have a fight with the local Hells Angels chapter. When Patton discovers that a young woman has slipped her a phone and possibly a password that gives her a gateway to evil, she decides to use her desire for justice as an excuse to do a lot of stupid horror movie things. Her boyfriend and his brother and his fiancé are all even dumber, fighting and carrying on while death looms nearby.
The film is best viewed as a racially flipped “Deliverance” or “Straw Dogs,” where now black people have to face up to a white trash nightmare. In this case, the nightmare includes a motorcycle gang that answers to William Fichtner, a white trash, understaffed police department led by Missi Pyle, and a trafficking scheme too big for the movie to really deal with. If you’re looking for serious thriller about sex trafficking, “Traffik” fails because it just can’t be taken that seriously. If, on the other and, you want a rousing thriller where you can yell at the screen, “Traffik” delivers.
The actors are convincing, the pace is fast, and the film is exciting. As guilty pleasure thrillers go, this is a pretty good one. At bargain matinee prices, this is worth seeing! You just have to filter out those couple of BET video make out scenes though. But try out this bizarre mix of Sons of Anarchy, crossed with a BET video, and a touch of Chainsaw Massacre (at the wrong gas station in the wrong town). The bad guys are super eager to kill everyone, and this movie has a high body count. William Fichtner excels as the nemesis. He was also previously great in Drive Angry. This film is worth seeing for his performance alone.