Article first published as Blu-ray Review: 'A Single Shot' on Blogcritics.
Back in 1998, director Sam Raimi proved he could still deliver a nail biter without his signature graphic content in A Simple Plan.
Author Scott B. Smith adapted his own best-seller about a group of
backwoods folks’ lives turned upside down after finding some lost cash
into a classic thriller. Now, author Matthew F. Jones has adapted his
own novel, A Single Shot, into another Simple Plan-esque
thriller about another lonely woodsman up to his neck in a dangerous
situation — with less satisfactory results — on Blu-ray January 14.
Moon (Sam Rockwell) lives alone in a trailer after his wife Moira
(Kelly Reilly) leaves him and takes their son. One morning while John is
out hunting deer, he accidentally shoots and kills a young woman,
leaving John to find a container with $100,000. John hides the body and
takes the money to try to win back his estranged wife. Meanwhile, John
begins to receive threatening phone calls and his dog is shot. Soon
enough, the dead girl shows up again with a note attached, and now John
must find out who he’s stolen the money from with red herrings —
including local lawyer Pitt (William H. Macy), the tattooed Obadiah (Joe
Anderson), and new-face-in-town Waylon (Jason Isaacs) — piling up
If there’s one thing about reviewing Blu-ray discs for Well Go USA, it’s their exception presentations. A Single Shot
shoots onto Blu-ray on a 25GB disc, framed in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
Cinematographer Eduard Grau makes the most of filming in the woods. It’s
interesting to see just how much director Rosenthal has degraded the
picture in post-production, because in one of the special features we
see on-location shooting where it’s mostly bright and sunny whereas the
film takes on a very cold and muted look. Detail is always on spot on
but the color desaturation sucks the life out of contrast of skin tones à
la Winter’s Bone. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio keeps the ambience
alive with the use of surrounds throughout, making you feel like you’re
out in the woods alongside John in his misadventures. An optional 2.0
Dolby Digital track is also available, along with English subtitles.
Special features are scant, even while being lengthy. Unfortunately, they’re very repetitive. “The Making of A Single Shot”
runs 26 minutes and features on-set footage, along with interviews with
the cast and crew. Director Rosenthal, screenwriter Jones, and the cast
all talk up the film as expected. “Interviews” is full-length versions
of the interviews with Rockwell and Macy. A trailer for the film is
included and pre-menu previews include: Child of God, McCanick, and The Truth About Emanuel.
David M. Rosenthal does his best at keeping things cold and menacing,
but fails to inject the ending with appropriate irony to make you care
how things turn out. Sam Rockwell is as good as he always is,
maintaining his crown for most underrated actor. While he continues to
star in low-budget affairs, his Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 was one of the year’s most memorable characters.
As for the supporting cast, Anderson turns in a decent enough
performance with his limited screentime, while Isaacs is completely
wasted and unrecognizable. Jeffrey Wright is awful, mumbling his way
through every line of dialogue; you can never tell what he’s saying.
Considering how unnecessary he is to the plot, he could have been cut
altogether to give the film a better pace as the 116 minute runtime is
way too long. In the end, watching Rockwell perform may be reason enough
to check out A Single Shot, however, the film could have used a shot in the arm of adrenaline. A rental is your best bet.