FrightFest review – The Group (2022)

My notes on The Group (2022)

Written and directed by Will Higo, this is a single setting suspense movie – handily illustrating Raymond Chandler’s plot point about getting a story going by having a man come through a door with a gun.

In an anonymous community centre, after dark, a self-help group for addicts gathers and thumbnail sketches establish personalities – jittery Kara (Evangelina Burton), returning after causing trouble … clean and sober Seth (Luke Dayhill), who may not have shaped up morally as well as he has physically (he’s still dealing) … combative prick in a suit Henry (Tom Coulston), who refuses to take self-help seriously … two-years-straight Charley (Jennifer Aries), who doesn’t seem too happy about it … short-fused cop Dave (Mike Nelson), who’s busted several people in the room … instant relapse Eddy (Nobuse ‘Jnr’ Uwaifo, who does crack in the toilets and doesn’t sit in the circle … and group leader Ellen (Alicia Novak), who’s calm and reasonable and humourless in a way that suggests why this crowd have collectively and singly gone off the rails.  Enter Jack (Dylan Baldwin), bald and violent, who gets the group’s attention by gut-shooting one of them, then takes charge in a session designed to get uncomfortable truth out of them all, which eventually brings out the reason why he’s so angry with them.  Will Eddy, peeping through frosted glass, be of any help to his fellow struggling addicts – and, as Jack keeps asking, do any of them deserve to walk out of the room alive?

It runs a tight 71 minutes, and takes the form of a group therapy session as everyone gets to speak – and, here, to suffer in the spotlight.  The mystery is nicely set up, but it’s Baldwin’s underplayed ferocity that sells the contrivance – American vengeance-seekers tend to be men of few words, but Jack is loquacious as he gets to the point.  It’s impressively directed too, getting a lot of mileage out of a pretty bland single location.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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