‘Justice Served’ is Independent Done the Right Way (Review)
Directed by: Marvin Young
Cast: Marvin Young, Lochlyn Munro, Lance Henriksen, Gail O’Grady
I’m always game to support a legitimately inspired micro-film. Justice Served may be a slight notch above micro status, but if such is the case, there isn’t a sizable separating figure. None of that really matters though… I mean, sure, the film could have been better presented with a few extra million dollars invested, but that’s a common story, so we’ll call it irrelevant to this discussion.
The fact is, Justice Served is a low budget film with big spirit and a powerful heartbeat. It’s extremely ambitious, and while overzealousness can often lead to an indie disaster, director Marvin Young (yes, Young MC – and as an emcee myself, I’m going to do all I can to not go fanboy, and try to completely forget the fact that I’m talking about Young-mother-effin-MC’s movie!) is sharp enough to know his limitations and work those limitations for all they’re worth. He doesn’t squeeze too hard and sacrifice quality for grand vision, he plays it measured, and as a filmmaker, that’s a priceless quality that should serve Young well in future endeavors. And I’m excited to follow those endeavors – this guy has some promise, and if he’s as calculated in the future as he was while shooting this flick, he’ll grow into the stud filmmaker he looks destined to be.
As for the story itself, it’s interesting, and becomes somewhat heavy on focal plot points. But that script weight doesn’t become a factor until the final act, which uncorks a lot of answers, but in truncated time. The first two acts are engaging and intriguing. What we essentially play witness to are the makeshift court proceedings of a seeming lunatic. The accused is locked in a chair, while the victim is just feet away, separated by a glass wall, with a button that possesses the power to give the accused a nasty little (or lengthy) shock. The idea, it would so appear, is to right legal wrongs that victims of severe cases have been forced to experience. But things go too far. Much, much too far, and more than a single participant in this macabre god complex exhibit meet an untimely and often brutal demise.
Don’t look for any big special effects sequences. Don’t look for any earth shattering message (though we do clearly get some sociopolitical commentary that I think is easily picked up upon, and pretty well delivered), or enormous homage to past horrors. You won’t get any of that. But you will get strong performances from Lance Henriksen (who enjoys a much larger part than I’d expected), Chase Coleman, Jay Giannone and (what do you know), Marvin Young himself. These four standout in particular, and bring the kind of energy and sympathy (and strange mixture of both, for each character, actually) that makes an onscreen personality endearing. They’re not all good guys, but they’re all good characters.
I didn’t expect much from Justice Served simply because I hadn’t heard much of the production, and I cover the genre full-time. So to unearth an entertaining, often creative and consistently emotional little horror film that, while not perfect (there are a few rocky moments in the dialogue department), was awfully engaging, while being assembled on a shoestring budget was more than a pleasant surprise. Breaking Glass has another unsuspecting winner on their hands.
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