There’s always some scepticism when low-budget movies can’t reach to a safe 90-minute standard. There are obvious exceptions where the brief time is filled with character and intrigue that makes it feel longer. But Winter Ridge, the new film from Dom Lenoir, feels longer for all the wrong reasons – desperate and struggling to invent new and relevant scenarios for a dismally flat story.
Winter Ridge is set in the sleepy seaside town of Blackrock, and follows workaholic detective Ryan Hodges (Matt Hookings). His vaguely comfortable small-town life comes to a screeching halt as his wife is run over and put into a coma. Meanwhile, a series of OAP murders take place in the town – elderly residents are suddenly shuffling off the mortal coil with a small puncture in their necks.
The movie gets a few things right, namely the sets and locations that distinguish Lenoir from the common amateur. The money (as little as they have) is splashed across the screen with Blackrock looking like a town and with a police department that seems genuine. Unfortunately, absent are the elements that make whodunits so entertaining.
Only a few of the townsfolk are examined – looking like shifty cartoons as the detectives ask simple questions – without a wider, more intense investigation. The main perspective is in the wrong place – Ryan’s partner, Tom (Justin McDonald), despite being a small irritant, is new to the job and could have offered an ideal entrance into the department and the town of Blackrock. And even though Ryan is distinct in his dark jackets, he’s not an overly engaging hero. His trauma from a comatose wife makes him fly off the occasional handle, but the infractions aren’t much to be appalled about. Or emotional about. He’s not heroic enough to be admired, and he’s not damaged enough to earn sympathy.
Winter Ridge is a weak effort, especially from writer Ross Owen Williams, whose script has very few ideas and even fewer worth exploring. The performances aren’t exceptional, aside from Hannah Waddington (best known from Game of Thrones). She’s the only considerable talent in the film, making even the most ridiculous scenes seem well executed. Winter Ridge doesn’t have the budget, the story nor the characters to be what it wants to be. 86 minutes is actually a blessing.
Winter Ridge is released in select cinemas on 5th September 2018.
Watch the trailer for Winter Ridge here: