Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Assailant, on Redbox

Alexander Hamilton was born on the Caribbean Island of Nevis and Horatio Nelson was once stationed there. Now it also has this film as a claim to fame, but it is a rather dubious one. A quarreling couple has come for a last-chance vacation getaway, but a psycho-stalker interrupts their attempts to rekindle romance in Tom Paton’s Assailant, which releases today, through Redbox (kiosks and VOD).

Jason and Zoe Sellers used to have a touring business, until he made a disastrous investment that wrecked the company. To make up for it, he works compulsively, but that only drove the couple further apart. In a final attempt to save their marriage, they have returned to Nevis, where they had a spectacular honeymoon. Unfortunately, the luxury hotel has shuttered, so instead they chartered laidback Captain Henry’s yacht.

The super-chill salty dog will not be their problem. Instead, they make the mistake of talking to the deranged Michael at dinner. He has a weird Punisher-like impulse to right perceived bad behavior. Basically, he gives offenders three chances to apologize before he starts the process of menacing, hunting down, and killing them. The Sellers do not realize what kind of bear they poked, so the next day they proceed with their planned hike. That should be fun, right?

Assailant is pretty mediocre, in predictable and manipulative ways, but the Nevis locales are lovely on-screen. It really looks nothing like Paton’s previous films, like Black Site, Black Ops, and 400 Bullets, which had a dark and grungy aesthetic, but were also a good deal of fun.

Unfortunately, Paton’s script has no spark. Everything feels familiar and people often make maddeningly foolish decisions. As played by Poppy Delvingne and Chad Michael Collins, the hunted Sellers are quite a dull and annoying couple. However, Casper Van Dien plays against type with surprisingly sinister intensity as the unhinged Michael. Of course, it is also fun to see Jeff Fahey turn up as the grizzled Captain Henry, but he really ought to have more to do here.

As a film,
Assailant just doesn’t have much personality or style and it never holds any surprises. Van Dien and Fahey try their best, but the entire package is underwhelming. It really is the sort of unremarkable by-the-numbers production that gave straight-to-VOD a bad name. Not recommended, Assailant is available today (3/22), via Redbox.