Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Don’t Go: Reality Collapses on Stephen Dorff

Have you ever had the sensation after an accident or an embarrassing foot-in-mouth gaffe that you could almost take it back by reversing time, if only you could get the right leverage? Ben Slater is convinced he is tantalizing close, but that means he is still agonizingly far in David Gleeson’s Don’t Go (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Tragically, Ben and Hazel Slater’s daughter died in a household accident. That would be painful enough, but the exact details (that will be revealed over time) are almost unbearable for the grieving father. Somehow, the couple muddles along, hoping a fresh start managing Hazel’s late father’s small Fawlty Towers-looking inn on the Irish seacoast will give them a new lease on life. She will handle most of the innkeeping, while he will teach English at the local Catholic school.

That is the plan, but it quickly becomes apparent Slater is not yet ready to move on. Weirdly, he keeps seeing the presumably misspelled words “Seas the Day” everywhere. He also starts having a recurring dream of the day he and Hazel built an elaborate sand castle with their daughter while vacationing at the family property. When Slater discovers he can carry items from that day back into the present, he becomes obsessed with the notion he can also save their little girl too. Meanwhile, Hazel’s Ab Fab-esque girlfriend Serena makes everything more awkward with her unstable presence.

Eventually, Gleeson and co-screenwriter Ronan Blaney dive head-first into Jacob’s Ladder territory, but the first two acts are quite mysterious, with a hint of the mystical, yet still mostly rather grounded. Stephen Dorff continues to be one of the best genre-specialists, who can seemingly turn up the intensity with the flick of a switch. He is reliable as ever portraying Slater, especially in his scenes with Melissa George, who is quite terrific as Ms. Slater. Their pain feels real and raw. Simon Delaney provides a nice counterpart, as well as a positive Catholic figure playing the good natured but perceptive Father Sean, while Aoibhinn McGinnity is all kinds of sultry and self-destructive as the disruptive Serena.

Don’t Go is one of two films opening this Friday (both from IFC Midnight) that throw ostensive reality into a state utter and complete chaos. However, Don’t Go works better than its brethren, because of its strong character development and the sign-posts it drops early on, for future reference later on. Recommended for genre fans who enjoy head-tripping films, Don’t Go opens this Friday (10/26) in New York, at the IFC Center.