Nicely constructed, the low-budget thriller “Blow the Man Down”
(streaming Friday on Amazon Prime) features many layers that writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy manage to keep on an even, slowly unfolding keel. It opens in song, on an ocean pier, with fishermen belting out the title song.
But why they’re singing it, and why the film takes its name from it, will remain a bigger mystery than the multiple mysteries that move the film along.
The location is the fictional Easter Cove, Maine, where the Connolly girls, Pris (Sophie Lowe) and her younger sister Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), are sharing a drink before attending the funeral of their mother.
Though this appears to be the beginnings of a character study on the differences between the siblings – they’re close, but Pris is the responsible one, Mary Beth is the wild child – it soon heads off into all sorts of directions, with many other people.
Post-funeral, Mary Beth heads for the local bar for a few drinks, but has some trouble with local bad apple Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who comes on to her, won’t let up and (spoiler alert!) is killed by her in self-defense, with a harpoon assist.
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Well, yeah! And that very sharp knife with the Connolly fishing business name emblazoned on it should do the trick. And the endless ocean would be a great place to dump the cooler.
Time to meet more people. There’s Enid (Margo Martindale), who runs the Ocean View B&B (which really should be called a B&B&B because it’s also a brothel). And there’s a trio of longtime residents: Susie, Gail, and Doreen (June Squibb, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugot), who seems to know everything about everyone. And there are a couple of cops: One is a regular customer at the B&B&B, the other is an inquisitive man just doing his job.
Before you can catch a breath, a body washes up on shore, and when the sisters find out, they panic. But it turns out to be a bullet-riddled woman (no harpoon marks!) who worked at the B&B&B, and she wasn’t exactly preparing breakfasts or making beds. Look out! Nasty, foul-mouthed working woman Lexie (Gayle Rankin) is soon making things even murkier.
By the time the expanding series of plotlines introduces a bag with $50,000 cash, and the Connolly knife has gone missing, you’re wondering where else this story can possibly turn. Some sleepy little town!
The film is about all of these people and incidents, but the focus eventually comes around to Enid, and Martindale gives a frightening, multi-textured performance as a powerful woman who’s juggling a lot of secrets.
There are questions everywhere you turn, and just about all of them are answered. But the filmmakers couldn’t quite lick the problem of how to end it, and in an attempt to wrap things up, those answers are delivered too quickly, too neatly. And I’m still wondering why the film is called “Blow the Man Down.” Credit: USATODAY