Kill Hole: Film Review

A low-budget thriller that strains to register.

The low-budget thriller from filmmaker Mischa Webley stars Chadwick Boseman, Tory Kittles and Billy Zane.

Taking the Iraqi conflict to the urban and rural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, Kill Hole depicts veterans back on the warpath – this time pursuing one another. Writer-director Mischa Webley’s debut feature deploys a high-concept plot and then struggles to fully execute it, hampered by a repetitive script, unremarkable cast and constrained budget. Prospects are likely limited to festivals and home-entertainment formats.

Iraq vet Sam Drake (Chad Boseman) attempts to reconcile the traumas of combat and his guilt over complicity in an especially heinous prisoner atrocity, but late nights alone driving a cab and intensive group counseling sessions led by fellow soldier Marshall (Billy Zane) only seem to aggravate his post-war stress.

Things only get worse when his former employers from a private security firm come calling with a wholly unsavory mission, making it clear that the assignment is not optional: track down and kill Devin Carter (Tory Kittles), a former Marine sniper who inadvertently witnessed the war crime perpetrated by Drake and covered up by the company.

Carter has gone native somewhere in the Pacific Northwest backwoods after assassinating one of the firm’s executives. Forced to flush his adversary out of the dense forest, Drake is soon out of his depth and ends up Carter’s prisoner. The action quickly bogs down when the men are forced to directly confront each other in a series of long, talky scenes, shifting the film’s focus to a meditation on personal responsibility and redemption.

Once he sets up the soldier vs. soldier scenario, Webley appears unsure exactly how to play it out, other than essaying a backcountry Apocalypse Now by way of Deliverance. Far too many situations with characters moodily meditating on their demons or pointlessly talking them out weigh the plot down, perceptibly dragging on the later action-oriented scenes. The principals’ performances are not especially absorbing and supporting castmembers barely register as anything more than types. Technical credits are serviceable, with the backwoods action sequences particularly distinctive.

Venue: Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Production companies: Alternate Ending Studios
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Tory Kittles, Billy Zane, Peter Greene
Director-screenwriter: Mischa Webley
Producers: Jonny Gillette, Zach Hagen
Director of photography: Eric Billman
Production designer: Travis Zariwny
Music: Jason Wells
Costume designer: Angelique Paull
Editor: Jason Westby
No rating, 89 minutes

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