'Landmine Goes Click': Film Review

Courtesy of Sarke Studio
A clever premise undercut by narrative contrivances.

Vacationing American hikers in European Georgia get into trouble when one of them steps on a landmine in Levan Bakhia's twisty thriller.

A hapless American tourist vacationing in a mountainous region of European Georgia steps on a landmine that threatens to go off if he moves. That's the diabolically intriguing premise of Levan Bakhia's thriller, which isn't content to simply explore that single fraught situation. Featuring a contrived plot twist and a surprising second act that moves into truly disturbing territory, the unwieldly Landmine Goes Click when it should have gone "boom."

As the story begins, Chris (Sterling Knight, veteran of several Disney TV shows) and friends Alicia (Spencer Locke of the Resident Evil films) and Daniel (Dean Geyer) are lightheartedly trekking through the Georgian countryside. We learn that Alicia and Daniel are soon to be married, but that she and Chris, who's going to be the best man at their wedding, recently had an affair that she's desperate to keep secret.

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Posing for a group photo taken by a random passerby, Chris steps on the armed landmine that will blow him to smithereens if he removes his foot. To reveal more about the situation would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that Chris and Alicia are soon left alone. That is, until the arrival of a local hunter, Ilya (Kote Tolordava) and his dog. Ilya offers to help, but it quickly becomes clear that he's more interested in playing a sadistic game of humiliation that culminates with him raping Alicia while Chris watches helplessly.

All of this is hard enough to take, but the filmmaker ups the ante with an extended coda in which one of the characters shows up at Ilya's home to take brutal revenge that involves not only him, but also his wife and teenage daughter who apparently are unaware of his evil proclivities.

There's no shortage of imagination here, albeit of the sick and twisted variety. And to the film's credit, it makes an effort to illustrate that violent vengeance takes as much of a toll on the giver as the receiver. The performances are first-rate, with Knight and Locke vividly conveying their characters' emotional and physical travails and veteran Georgian actor Tolordava (who died a few months after production) truly creepy as the disarmingly buffoonish sadist.

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But Landmine Goes Click suffers from far too leisurely storytelling. Director Bakhia favors long takes and generously allows for improvisation by the performers, with the result that every scene goes on much longer than necessary. What should have been a tautly paced B-movie thriller instead comes to feel like a mini-series, leaving the viewer too much time to ponder the silliness of its narrative contrivances.

Production: Sarke Studio, Imedi Films
Cast: Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Kote Tolordava, Dean Geyer, Nana Kiknadze, Helen nelson, Girogi Tsaava, Nika Apriashvill
Director/editor: Levan Bakhia
Screenwriter: Adrian Colussi
Producers: Irakli Chikvaidze, Levan Bakhia, Nika Apriashvili, Levan Kobakhidze
Executive producer: Adrioan Colussi
Director of photography: Vigen Vartanov
Production designers: Tamar Guliashvili, Sophio Kharebashvili
Costume designers: Tamar Guliashvili, Sophio Kharebashvili
Composer: Peke Begashvili

Not rated, 110 minutes

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