A promising debut from writer-director Jon Cvack, Road to the Well is a neo-noir that may be predictable in plotting but intriguing in execution.
Centering around a reunion between a pair of friends whose characters are at opposite ends of the spectrum, the film begins with Jack (Micah Parker) drifting into town just as life is about to take a turn for the worse for his old friend Frank (Laurence Fuller). A quiet sort of man for whom being pushed over is as natural as breathing, Frank is dismayed (though not wholly surprised) to find his girlfriend having an affair with his jerk of a boss. Jack decides to take him to a bar, where he coaxes Frank to approach a pretty woman named Ruby (Rosalie McIntire).
Not too long after Frank chats her up, he and Ruby are having sex in the back seat of his car. Before either of them know what's happening, a masked man bursts in and then everything goes black. When Frank awakens, Ruby is dead and he has a bloody knife in the back of his underwear. Desperate, he turns to Jack, who suggests cutting up Ruby, stuffing her in a suitcase, driving north to a family friend's cabin, and burying her in the woods. Against his better judgement, Frank agrees.
Along the way, the two encounter a handful of figures, most of whom are fairly generic and sometimes overfried in their characterisations. The lone exception is a retired soldier (well-played by Marshall R. Teague) who, having killed and seen killing, recognises that he is in the company of killers. The extended scene is pulsating with tension and its denouement is both expected and yet unpredictable. Indeed, Cvack's greatest strength may be his ability to sustain a grindingly taut atmosphere. He's aided and abetted by Conor Jones' excellent soundtrack.
Both Parker and Fuller do extremely good work, but the most valuable player may be cinematographer Tim Davis, whose lighting and compositions elevate and intensify this character study of a man's journey into his own darkness.
Road to the Well
Directed by: Jon Cvack
Written by: Jon Cvack
Starring: Laurence Fuller, Micah Parker, Rosalie McIntire, Marshall R. Teague, Barak Hardley