8th October 2018 (UK VOD Release)
After being stabbed in the heart by ruthless home invaders, a man is left for dead. Now weak, outnumbered, and knife sticking from his chest, he attempts to do the impossible: save his wife from these murderers before he bleeds to death.
Rockmond Dunbar, Zhu Zhu, Shen Lin, Robert Patrick
Our homes are supposed to be a place of comfort and safety. Hollywood knows this, so of course countless thrillers depict strangers breaking in to unsettle and terrorize the owners in what should be the only place they feel secure. Usually, the way these films play out are largely the same – after some initial worry and trepidation, the owners stamp their foot down and find an untapped well of strength they didn’t know they had to fight back. In Bobby Roth’s methodically mean-streaked Edge of Fear, things are a little bit different.
After having his life saved by surgeon Patrick Chen (Shen Lin), hunter Mike (Rockmond Dunbar; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) invites Patrick and his wife Laura (Zhu Zhu) for a short break at his swanky lodge as a token of appreciation.
But trouble’s brewing only a few miles away as a group of thugs led by Jack Pryor (Robert Patrick; T2: Judgement Day) undertake a daring breakout of one of their crew from a prison transport bus. The plan involves them extracting their friend before driving to Mexico, but a plucky prison guard thwarts their efforts by firing blindly, hitting their getaway car and rendering it useless. The criminals then begin walking to find the nearest house or form of transportation – which, of course, turns out to be Mike’s lodge.
Using the excuse of a car breakdown (which isn’t entirely false), Pryor and his pals force their way in to Mike’s home and plant themselves there while they wait to be picked up. A scuffle ensues with the rightful residents have enough of Pryor’s loutish behaviour – which results in the timid and confrontation-shirking Patrick getting stabbed in the heart.
With his medical knowledge, however, Patrick realises he still has time to save his wife from the intruders as the knife essentially acts like a cork, stopping him from bleeding to death. Outnumbered, overpowered and gravely injured, Patrick must think outside the box to save Laura – before time runs out and he ends up in one.
Edge of Fear reminded me of the 2006 Jason Statham action movie Crank, but without the feverish excitement. The stakes were the same, but where Crank‘s selling point was its high energy approach, Edge of Fear meticulously slows the pace down and substitutes adrenaline for tense moments of hiding around the house. The severity of Patrick’s injury is channelled into the flow of the film, meaning the film never really picks up speed in fear of doing more damage than good.
It’s certainly a unique take on a genre whose stories of intrusion are relatively straightforward, and for the most part it works. Writers Scott Barkan and Gregg Zehentner almost stubbornly keep Patrick down and very nearly out, not resorting to him gaining superhuman strength to subdue the obviously more dominant henchmen. As the film wears on, Patrick understandably gets weaker but the film still continues to be devoid of any real urgency, seemingly slowing the pace simultaneously to his deterioration.
The only time Edge of Fear accelerates in momentum is in its closing moments, where it had the potential to be truly great. For a few seconds, it defies Hollywood convention and if it were only a couple of minutes shorter then the poignant mark it leaves would have been exponentially more impactful. Unfortunately, Edge of Fear does not commit to such a refreshing conclusion, instead settling for an overused and quite frankly disappointing way to wrap up proceedings.
Robert Patrick is suitably menacing as Pryor, while Shen Lin doesn’t have a whole lot to do for the majority other than grimace and look pained; both of which he does admirably. His wife Laura, played by the wonderfully named Zhu Zhu, frequently holds her own in silent protests against her captors although I do feel that more could have been done with her character. The rest of the gang are stereotypically boorish, but they do admittedly have solid chemistry between themselves.
Overall though, Edge of Fear patiently keeps you on your toes with its measured pacing and uncommon premise. With a feeble lead character who wouldn’t dent a pillow if he punched it going up against a gaggle of gang members and one mean motor-scooter that is Robert Patrick, it will have you guessing just how he’s going to get out of the predicament.
Edge of Fear is now available to buy on VOD through iTunes, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Sky Store.
Refreshing take on simple premise
Robert Patrick continues to be menacing
A few seconds of the ending
...The rest of the end
Continuously slow pace will be a deal breaker for some