Fantasia Fest 2015: Cop Car (2015) & Black Eyes (Short 2015)

Now that Fantasia (for my rundown) is done and I had the weekend to recuperate a little (so very little), I can put my energy into getting last week’s movies reviewed and done! Moving along, the next movie is a break from horror and we jump into a thriller hosted by director Jon Watts and actor and co-producer Kevin Bacon. I mean, the Kevin Bacon, (you know, Footloose) was here in Montreal at Fantasia! Consider me excited! 🙂

We started with the world premiere of a short called Black Eyes. Its features the same boy that is in Cop Car.

Black Eyes

Alex discovers Alice trying to commit suicide. When she hesitates he offers another path. Using special effects makeup, the kids pretend to die and become zombies.-IMDB

Black Eyes started a little weird.  The chemistry was a little awkward but it turned out to be really fun and kind of a little dark humor given the premise of it all. When it ended, I liked it quite a bit.

Cop Car (2015)

Canadian Premiere

Cop Car
Director/Co-writer: Jon Watts

Cast: Kevin Bacon, Hayes Wellford, James Freedson-Jackson, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim

Two boys, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hayes Wellford), run away from home looking for an adventure. They come across a cop car in the middle of nowhere and they even find the keys for it. They end up driving off with it to have some fun except what they didn’t  know is that this car belongs to the sheriff (Kevin Bacon) and he will do anything to get it back.

cop car

Cop Car is an intriguing thriller.  There is a lot of sounds and not so much dialogue. The deserted location makes for a nice emphasis on the small town boys.  Still, in between the physical nothingness, there seems to be something to read between the lines.  Like, what I noticed is that the adults are much more quiet.  They are deceiving and cunning.  None of the adults in this are saying the truth when they open their mouths.  There’s always a hidden agenda.  But against the boys, Travis and Harrison are young and simple and maybe even a little naive.  They want to seem like big boys but you can read them like an open book.  Its a movie that asks for the audience to read body language a lot, especially with Kevin Bacon’s character as the sheriff.  He almost has no lines but you can read his character more and more as the plot thickens.  That in itself makes this very engaging to watch.

cop car

For sure, you will wonder how the young boys are able to drive the cop car but lets put that aside as we suspend that disbelief. Even the director didn’t  want to ruin that magic when asked during the Q&A session.  You know, I didn’t even think about that while I was watching this.

What we have here is a great look at a talented small cast that can take a rather simple script and make it engaging. Allowing the audience to connect with the young boys as we watch them make some decisions and try new things that might make you fear for them.  Travis and Harrison, played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hayes Wellford respectively, are very fun to watch.  They are young boys and they want to look for adventure.  This might not be the adventure they are looking for but their characters are genuine and convincing.  They sometimes make you laugh because of the sporadic choices or the silly outbursts or their clearly inexperienced ways to deal with certain situations.  As they come across the sheriff and other characters, you watch them grow as the things get more intense and the situation becomes more serious.  At the same time, we watch their characters also shape up to be something more than what was in the beginning.

cop car

Now, time to look at Kevin Bacon. I’ve taken a few days (its like a week after I saw this movie) to kind of let the hype of being in the same room as someone as famous as Kevin Bacon die down.  The Q&A session was fantastic.  Kevin Bacon and Jon Watts are really great at answering the questions.

Before I get carried away, Kevin Bacon as the evil sheriff who is a little ruthless and deceiving and just all kinds of bad.  His character didn’t talk much but because he is such a good actor, he was able to show us through this body language and his expressions/reactions just the calm and collected guy he is trying to portray, a facade he has when he is in public while slowly as the situation intensifies, the real him pops up more and more.

Overall, Cop Car is a simple story but one that uses a great mix of sound, location and a minimal amount of characters to make it all work.  The character development and how we, as the audience, grows to care for the characters, is a huge plus.  It is well paced and at a very nice 88 minutes runtime, Cop Car gave us an increasing dose of tension and thrills as the plot thickens and a few surprise reveals. The kids may have taken the car for a joy ride but its one for all of us as well.

**Following that thought on the Q&A before, I wish that I could publish that one (and I’ll try to figure out how to make a Youtube video or something with snippets of the Q&As).  It was pretty nice.  People asked Kevin Bacon about the meaning of life (which we all laughed) and the difference between independent films and big budget films (filming done in 9 days versus 9 months and his words, “you don’t get paid”).  While Jon Watts got questions about “how he thinks it’ll differ for him in the experience of going from directing Cop Car to Clown to the upcoming reboot of Spiderman (he doesn’t know) and why he likes using kids in peril as central characters.  It was a pretty fun and memorable Q&A session. Sadly, I was seated pretty high up that my picture of them was so small and blurry, I didn’t post up the picture here but I’m still cursing myself for not bringing the DSLR.**