In this drama/thriller, real estate agent Alex (Heston Horwin) discovers a woman is being attacked while he is preparing to show a property to prospective buyers in Sedona Arizona. Alex is able to scare off the woman’s attacker and bring her back to the property. The woman introduces herself as Marakya (Michaella Russell). Marakya explains that the man who was attacking her is named Kellin (Chase Cargill), who works in the employ of a lawyer named Anthony (Taylor Flowers). Marakya further elaborates that Anthony’s law practice is in actuality a front for a sex trafficking operation, wherein Anthony exploits desperate clients who are unable to pay their legal fees into the trafficking trade in order to work off their debt. Marakya herself is an undocumented immigrant from Africa who was represented by Anthony, then forced into his operation where she learned too much about its interworkings. This led Anthony to send Kellin to kill her. The rest of the film follows Alex and Marakya as Marakya seeks vengeance against Anthony while also evading Kellin and other henchmen, the former not being all he appears to be.
While the notion of “a person out for revenge on the person who wronged them” is well established, and writer/director Nicholas Woods fulfills certain known tropes well. This is particularly true when it comes to the action set pieces in the film. Woods attempts to inject serious meditations on how people and organizations with authority can take advantage of people with lesser means into the script. Most of the characters in the film are acting not of their own volition, but due to being indebted to more powerful individuals. Unfortunately, one gets the feeling watching the film that it is sometimes struggling between being a fast-paced action/thriller, and serious character study. This leads to some issues of pacing in the film and the feeling that certain sub-plots could be omitted.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is the performances. Michaella Russell is captivating as Marakya, perfectly embodying the fear, resilience, and anger of a woman seeking to reclaim power and control after being abused and traumatized. Chase Cargill is also a standout as Kellin, adding depth to what could easily be a forgotten henchmen character. Instead, Cargill imbues the character with a nuanced sense of conflict and doubt. Taylor Flowers is engaging as Anthony, equal parts threatening, deviously manipulative, while also being saddled with a hidden sense of fear. All of these components combine into the perfect antagonist for our protagonists to clash with by the film’s end.
Another strongpoint in the film is Sten Olson’s cinematography. As alluded to above, Olson along with Woods’ direction shows deftness in creating the film’s action pieces with clear and methodical long takes. For the film’s quieter moments, Olson shows great care in composing intimate close-ups that highlight the performances given by the actors. Olson also shows his skill with lighting and color with the scenes taking place in Sedona desert landscapes. Tyler Rydosz’ music is also a strong accompaniment, the string-laden score lending the film the perfect mix of anticipation and dread.
Echoes Of Violence does not entirely succeed in fully investigating the deeper themes it presents. That said, it is a film that takes a known story format and puts its own stamp on genre conventions. Featuring engaging action and performances, haunting music, and memorable visuals, fans of drama/thrillers should seek this film out.
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