One Against The House is a heist movie that manages to hold the audience till the end. The basic plot summary – “A gambler is forced to pull off a heist to cover his friend’s debt”, is interesting enough to get the viewer engaged, and the director, Michael Fredianelli, manages to keep this going till the end of the movie. Despite being an indie movie, the superb cinematography, allied with some stunning locations, rarely make it seem like a budget flick.
The cast generally do a very good job. Derek Crowe pulls off the lead role well, with a vulnerable, bumbling charm about him that draws the audience towards him. Erik Jorn Sundquist is menacing enough as the main villain, but maybe at times being a little too dramatic for one’s liking. However, Michael Nose’s performance is probably the best of the lot; subtle enough to allow the audience to take a liking to him before he is revealed as somewhat of an antagonist as well.
The movie itself feels slightly rushed at times, and there could have been some more exposition provided in a few scenes. The editing certainly could have been better, and the viewer is left with the feeling that some scenes have been left out in the editing process when they would have done a good job of stitching the narrative together, especially when most of the movie has a slow, well-thought-out pace that allows the story to progress organically and logically. There’s a palpable sense of tension throughout the movie, which, while standard for movies in this genre, is still impressive considering the budget and size of the project. It points towards the quality of the writing and screenplay by Fredianelli.
The central theme of the movie comes out extremely well, with the audience seeing how the protagonist gets progressively hooked onto gambling and risk-taking. It shows how it is not too long of a road for someone to go from wanting to play casino games to fearing for his life. It is a chilling look at what gambling addiction can do to someone’s life if it is allowed to dictate terms, and the cinematography adds to this central theme to make it an enjoyable watch.
The protagonist’s journey towards degeneracy is extremely well-captured, going from just a night out with a friend to having to take hostages in order to pay off said friend’s gambling debt. Additionally, the plot does not progress as expected; there are a couple of surprises thrown in which add to the ride.
It is a cautionary tale, but at the same time, the audience is invested in the characters and their eventual fate, which again shows the quality of the writing team as well as the actors who brought the roles to life. One Against The House is a surprisingly enjoyable movie, especially given the budget range and genre, and is probably one of the better indie movies in recent months.
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