The tale of an average man’s irretrievable descent into misfortune, “Sinkhole” has the elements of a potentially nifty noir: evocative cinematography, a seedy criminal underworld and vivid, well-drawn lowlife characters. But utterly languorous pacing saps the film of its vitality; it’s like a trip without a destination. Further lower-tier fest audiences will probably step into this “Sinkhole.”
Destitute and disheartened, Jason (Bryan Marshall, likable in a heavy-lidded performance) is a former high school teacher whose affair with a student (Caitlin Rose) cost him his position. When his job at a landfill leads him to discover a body, two thugs demand Jason’s silence and force him into an ambiguous job under a local kingpin (Patrick Green). Soon, to his chagrin, Jason is ferrying drugs around town with a quirky roughneck (Robin Spriggs, terrific). Desperate for money to pay his estranged wife (Kelly O’Neal), Jason must untangle himself from a web of trouble. Yet there’s very little growth in the protagonist; Jason is almost entirely reactive. Scribe/helmer Paul Schattel makes interesting camera choices, and Steve Agnew’s cinematography is uncommonly well-textured for an indie, effectively alternating expansive well-lit vistas with darkened, cramped interiors.