"A Gun to the Head" resembles nothing so much as a senior project by a film-school student.

The third feature by Blaine Thurier, keyboardist for Canuck indie rock band the New Pornographers, “A Gun to the Head” resembles nothing so much as a senior project by a film-school student who isn’t quite as clever as he assumes. There’s an amateurish look to much of this noirish dark comedy — the blocking of fight scenes is especially maladroit — and the derivative plot rather too obviously incorporates influences as diverse as Quentin Tarantino, John Cassavetes and Edgar G. Ulmer. But some of the deadpan dialogue and character eccentricities might amuse indulgent fest auds and vid renters.

Bad decisions and worse consequences propel the shaggy-dog storyline about Trevor (Tygh Runyan), a now-respectable young Vancouverite who once ran wild with Darren (Paul Anthony), his loose-cannon cousin. When Trevor steps out for wine during his wife’s dinner party for her randy boss, he is unwillingly re-immersed in his checkered past as Darren desperately draws on his help in placating an aggrieved drug dealer. As the antagonist, Hrothgar Mathews effortlessly pilfers the pic as an erudite thug who sounds reasonable, and waxes philosophical, even while making good on his soft-spoken threats.

A Gun to the Head

Canada

Production

A Doghouse Films production. Produced by Oliver Linsley. Co-producer, Katherine Hazen. Directed, written by Blaine Thurier.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Craig Trudeau; editor, Nicholas Shepard; music, Brendan Ryan; music supervisor, Jennifer Lanchart; art directors, Jeffrey Halliday, Ja Pace; costume designer, Kathi Moore. Reviewed on DVD, Toronto, Sept. 17, 2009. (In Toronto Film Festival -- Contemporary World Cinema.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Tygh Runyan, Paul Anthony, Marnie Robinson, Hrothgar Mathews, Benjamin Ayres, Sarah Lind, Ben Cotton, Sarah Edmonson.

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