The failings of a once famed novelist, Reed Rodney, have come calling after a horrific car accident leaves Reed with reconstructive surgery and his mouth wired shut. Stuck in remote mountain home, sipping pain meds through a straw and hitting terrible writer’s block after the critically trashed last novel, fortune and distinction never seemed so lonely until his estranged daughter, Emmy, shows up at his front door, looking to spend some time with him before going to school abroad. Their hoary embattled relationship, built on alcoholism, lies, and abuse, urges Reed for a change of heart, willing to reconnect with Emmy by any way necessary, even if that means being a punching bag for her bottled up emotional outpourings. When an unexpected intruder exposes a callous secret and lives are at stake, Reed and Emmy must rely on each other to survive a twisted prowler’s sadistic games.
“Wired Shut” is the teeth-clenching, family quarrelling, sociopathic surviving inaugural full-length feature from Vancouver born director Alexander Sharp. The home-invasion thriller too hails from Vancouver, Canada with an old-fashion tale of an inside job story co-written by Sharp and the director’s steady collaborator Peter Malone Elliott in which the project is also the first full-length script for the two writers. “Wired Shut” houses a single location with a small cast but indulges varying levels of crazy and a good amount of bloodshed initially pie-eyed by the immense build up of downtrodden characters. Singed family relations, the ebb and flow of trust, and the untangling of an ugly knot to retether a stronger bond becomes the parallel of reconnecting in this GoFundMe crowdfunded film under Lakehouse Productions and Alexander Sharp’s Sharpy Films presented by Motion Picture Exchange or MPX.
In a role where you have to keep your trap shut at all times because you’re playing a former self-centered rake who crashed his Lamborghini and had to have your mouth wired shut, Blake Stadel (“Rise of the Damned”) has one of the easiest parts in all of move making history. Thank about it. Zero lines of dialogue, you’re feigning an ego that is as shattered as your character’s jaw, and you write or type if you have to communicate. Now, I’m not belittling Stadel’s once famous novelist, Reed Rodney, as the actor has to absorb the pity, the verbal abuse, and the overall confinement resulted by his injury as a sort of surrender to unfortunate happenstance. Reed’s moment of life-altering clarity came pre-introduction when crashing the Lambo that left him vulnerable and alone, two bad, pre-depression dispositions of mind and being. Across the table stews the stark opposite with Reed’s daughter Emmy, played by Alexander Sharp’s sister, Natalie Sharp (“Baby Monitor Murders”). Pent up with anger and seething with intent, Emmy is executed with these qualities with perfection by Sharp. However, Emmy extinguishes her fiery eyed hate too quickly in the fate upturning twist that creates a dubious bubble around her and not in a good way. Emmy’s defining moment of clarity is weakly pawned off just for her and her dad to have a slither of reconnection in a breakneck transition without any struggle or sacrifice to change her mind. Her blurry change of heart quickly becomes moot by Behtash Fazlaili’s (“The Evil In Us”) unhinged performance as Emmy’s delinquent boyfriend, Preston. Preston eclipses the entire father and daughter dynamic with a clichéd villain by monologuing and squandering wasted opportunities to end it all and getaway scot-free. Fazlaili’s performance also doesn’t inspire terror or much of anything at all except for frustration with the cavalier, walk-on act that’s supposedly a mentally broken man fallen to and reshaped by life’s hard knocks. What’s on screen is Joker-esque mush relating little backstory that drives him to scheme and to be completely off his rocker whereas, in contrast, we know what motivates Emmy and we know what motivates Reed.
The slow burn of “Wired Shut’s” first two acts attempts to humanize Reed as a dejected and alone with Emmy sparking life into an object he can now be fixated on to mend his meaningless, post-accident existence, but Emmy, herself, lugs her own daddy-issue baggage giving way for the two to buttheads in exacting their feelings upon one another. Sharp fishes for sympathy but keeps loose with expressing Reed and Emmy’s contentious relationship; a relationship that truly never existed with an alcoholic Reed’s persona no grata behavior around Emmy’s mother and her that extends his jet setting lifestyle with the next mistress. Though loose, you can see both stand and the foreseeable twist coming because of it in an unsurprising turn of events. What is surprising is Preston’s sudden Jekyll and Hyde as if Reed’s salivated score is Sharp’s theme that for the love of money is the root of all evil. The theme is peddled and not exactly discerned in Fazlaili’s character who’s more concerned with the cat and mouse game of unbelievable hilarity. Part of the absurdity has to do with Reed’s three story house with a built-in elevator and if you’ve ever ridden an in-home elevator, the cramped, smaller versions of a regular Otis are slow as Hell dripping with molasses. Yet, somehow, Reed and Emmy happen to beat Preston down a meager two stories with the push of a button while Preston stops to take an injury breather at the third story landing. Getting in the elevator should have been easy pickings when exiting, but in entertainment for some, keeping the audience attentive is pinnacle even if that means sacrificing the story for cheap thrills by stretching the realism just a little bit.
“Wired Shut” will leave you speechless with a pedestrian anticlimax after watching the DVD. Distributed by the United Kingdom’s 101 Films, the region 2, PAL encoded, 91 minute thriller is presented in an anamorphic widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio on a DVD5 and thoroughly soaked in a sea of tenebrous blue tint as the first, many firsts for these filmmakers, feature length cinematography for Martin Taube. Crystalized sleek and fresh with a modern, straight-edge finish, Taube main objective centers around personal space and to detox comfort with the strain and psychopathy, using close ups and up or down angling to exact an uneasy position during strenuous moments. The continuous tinting from start to finish could have been done without as it chokes the story in nearly an unviewable consumption. The English language Dolby Digital Stereo AC3, 5.1 surround sound mix, is a LFE sound cannon with a bass-heavy rattling industrial soundtrack by Oswald Dehnert and Rayshaun Thompson. The soundtrack’s sonorous tone crackles at the format’s compression, leaving granulated pops when the volume levels peak, which is really surprising for today’s digital and format spec cautious handling. Dialogue levels render nice and clear and the sound design’s not bad either with a complex range of soundbites inside a single setting, especially when Reed pops the wires when forcing open his mouth. The DVD is bare bones with special feature and the DVD cover itself is poorly misleading with a hooded figuring, standing backlit in the woods, with a large blade in hand. There is no such slasher figure in the movie. “Wired Shut” is not a slasher. I repeat. Not a slasher. “Wired Shut” is rated 15 for strong threat (gun pointing, knife to the throat), injury detail (stabbing, slicing, and surgical fastening coming undone), and language (Yes, foul language is present). As far as home invasion films go, “Wired Shut” says nothing new about the subgenre, but offers an intriguing ingredient of incapability and the strength to push through to the other side with the if there’s a will, there’s a way mentality underneath intruder chaos.