By Steve Greene | Criticwire August 20, 2013 at 12:01PM
More and more films premiere on Video on Demand -- if they don't simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we're looking at "A Single Shot," a thriller, based on a Matthew F. Jones novel, that premiered this past February at Berlinale -- not a documentary about the making of the Eminem song "Lose Yourself."
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Cast: Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs
Criticwire Average: C (8 critics)
Official Synopsis: "David M. Rosenthal's white-knuckle thriller starts with a bang: a single shot, aimed at a lone deer, that hits and kills a young woman. The hunter, John Moon (Sam Rockwell, 'Seven Psychopaths'), watches her die before discovering a box of money near her body. In a desperate panic, he takes the cash — hiring a low-rent lawyer (William H. Macy, 'Fargo') to fight his wife's (Kelly Reilly, 'Flight') divorce suit — and attempts to cover up the killing. But when he discovers that the money belonged to a group of hardened criminals, the hunter becomes the hunted in this tense cat-and-mouse struggle in the backwoods of West Virginia."
"It lurches from one plot point to the next like an apathetic factory-worker -- getting the job done, but slowly, and without any enthusiasm."
"Whatever the film may lack in its second act, Rosenthal and Jones more than make up for in its final third."
"A perfectly adequate example of lazy late night entertainment, gripping you from its captivating exposition, before holding your attention just long enough for you to want to uncover its conclusion."
"As individually impressive as any of those parts might be (Rockwell), we are left with a film that if not quite a Frankenstein’s monster, is certainly patchworky."
"Jones' screenplay elegantly explores these characters' despondent state to the point where 'A Single Shot' only really suffers from a conflict between the haunting aura of each scene and various attempts to pick up the pace."
"What cred the film does have comes courtesy of Rockwell, the kind of actor who's compellingly peculiar even when he's phoning it in -- and even here, there are sporadic flashes of dedication visible in his eyes, inasmuch as we can see them behind an impressive forest of facial hair."
"One of the key problems with Jones’ script is that he’s been unwilling to pare down the novel into clean cinematic lines. There are too many characters and too much plot, which may have worked with the breathing space of prose fiction but seems hopelessly crammed and lacking fluidity on the screen."
"'A Single Shot' rarely surprises, but its portrait of foolishness and fallibility, and its atmosphere of inevitable doom, remain sturdy and captivating, culminating with a finale...where fatalism and poetic justice finally meet."
"A Single Shot" is now available on VOD and digital and will be released in theaters on September 20th.