Daylight ~ (USA, 2010) ~ Netflix

When a couple are driving in the country on their way to a wedding, they pass a hitchhiker (Michael Godere as Renny), and stop for directions. Against their better judgement, they agree to give him a ride: “I’m going that way anyhow”. Everyone knows it’s a mistake and it doesn’t take  long to see just how much of a mistake it is. A little further down the road is another hitchhiker (Ivan Martin, as Leo). With an extremely polite form of menace they put the hostages in the back seat and settle down to drive. But it’s a high-end European stick shift, which neither of them can drive. Plan B. The male hostage is back in the front seat to drive. It’s these touches that take this genre thriller in slightly difference directions from other films of the genre. The thugs direct them to a rural house, where a third member of the gang awaits.  The assumption is that the occupants were killed. Nothing has been said, only a pan along a flowered, wallpapered wall with seems to have faint splashes of blood.

There’s a harrowing scene when the husband is taken outside with a bag over his head and Renny tells him he’s going to slash his throat, but it will be over “quickly” and he’ll only feel it briefly. Both Renny and Leo have continually used the phrase, let’s “stay on track, people”. Staying on track includes as a first step slashing the husband’s throat. The husband (Aidan Redmond’s Daniel) quickly pleads for his life with promises of large amounts of cash. This gets them ‘off-track’ and things spiral out of control.

While the third member of the gang takes the husband off to follow through on the new and half-baked ransom scheme, we are left with Leo (the ‘brains’ of the trio), Renny, and a very pregnant wife (Alexandra Meierhans, as Irene). From a simpering, terrified woman, she focuses on her unborn baby and a sort of religious atmosphere descends over the house. The couple have “lost their way”, both as is hinted, in their marriage, and on the physical road they’re driving on. Could it be they are lost as well on their spiritual journey?

You can see this is not the usual. They make meals, wash the dishes and politely ask for the bread to be passed. It’s a sleight of hand trick tha t puts us off our guard – gets us off track, if you will. The entire film is drenched in “daylight” –  no darkness here.

There are all sorts of questions left to our own imaginations as the film comes to a close. Another unusual swerve in a film full of them.

Both the actors who play Renny and Leo are excellent.

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