Wednesday, January 22, 2020

When Trailer Park Girls Cry: Far From Home (1989)

Far From Home (1989)
Rating; ***
Starring: Matt Frewer, Drew Barrymore, Richard Masur

Starring a tweenage Drew Barrymore as Joleen Cox, Far From Home (1989) follows her and her character's divorced father Charlie driving cross country throughout almost an entire Summer for a journalism job, until their gas tank runs low enroute back to their Los Angeles home. They eventually end up wandering around a nearby Nevada town of Banco where they apparently have to stay at for a bit as its only gas station's dried out and the other fuel source around is at least another drive away.

Renting out a trailer from guest ranch owner Agnes, Joleen, desperate for some romance and excitement, gets smitten by Agnes’ mysterious teenage son Jimmy, who may or may not be all that safe to be around with considering he's a bit of a bullying creeper with voyeuristic tendencies and a rapey-side. And with the town's suddenly outbreak of suspicious deaths picking off residents one by one, Joleen fears she might be flirting with the top suspect of these murders and that she might be next on the hit list.

Mildly entertaining at its best, Far From Home is, without a doubt, targeted to tweens with its depictions of struggle to gain an adult perspective on life, managing control on said perspective as well as one's brooding interest on the opposite sex. It manages to do this alternatively between being laughably cheesy and borderline exploitative at some (nothing too explicit, though the leering shots of a two-piece clad Barrymore felt rather unnecessary), showing off the dangers that would come from an unready mindset and how some innocent acts can have troubling drawbacks. All of this through  an otherwise predictable murder mystery with shared slasher elements.

Considering the small number of casts and momentous amount of horror and thriller cliches played, it wasn't that hard to figure out the identities of both the killer and red herrings. In a way, the direction and pace of the movie makes a lot of sense, but the lack of surprise and creative curves just dull the impact of the plot. Add the matter that the kills aren't particularly graphic (but it does have its small share of ingenuity at times), Home could have been a lot more stale and forgettable if it wasn't for the cast; Barrymore and Matt Frewer make a cogent father-daughter pair, even if majority of the focus was around Barrymore's moody Joleen transitioning between adolescence and adulthood. Richard Masur has a fun surrogate uncle feel to his depiction to his Duckett, a Vietnam veteran living with a mantra that help shouldn't come at a price, while Jennifer Tilly and Karen Austin as Amy and Louise respectively were sweet in their enjoyable supporting roles as two women also stranded in the town, ready to befriend the father-daughter pair.

There's also a great deal of atmosphere present as the desert's sense of isolation from urban civilization makes everything a serious debacle, may it be finding gasoline or hiding from a knife-wielding killer during sandstorms. The climax itself utilizes this predicament greatly with its cat-and-mouse final act, a small reward for sitting through what is technically a young adult mystery novel turned feature length viewing.

 Easy on the mind while passing around creepy vibes and interesting characters, Far From Home (1989) doesn't offer much in weight as a teen thriller with a bodycount but, for what it is, it's a watchable effort that tries to be potential game changer for one of its decade's well-loved child stars. See for the cheap thrills and ham and you'll do just fine.

1 male found shot on the head
1 female electrocuted in a tub with a tossed electric fan
1 female caught inside a burning car
1 female found dead, body preserved in ice
1 male had his throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male shot, falls and lands on a satellite dish
Total: 6

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