Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Some effective moments of 'Panic' may lure you into its uneven stream

No, "Silent Panic" is not a new nickname for the worldwide reaction to the coronavirus. It's simply the title of a so-so thriller that's now one of myriad streaming options available to so many of us with too much time on our hands.

This one's psychological trappings develop early when three pals -- a falsely accused ex-con named Eagle (Sean Bateghi), recovering cokehead Bobby (Joseph Martinez), and writer Dom (Jay Habre) -- discover a corpse in their trunk upon walking back to their car from a camping trip. Naturally, Eagle wants no part of calling the cops, since they already have a history of not believing him

Meanwhile, the nervous Bobby goes bonkers after seeing the body, while Dom, a journalist with the personality of a goldfish, goes into deep introspective mode. Such diversity of moods makes for an assortment of possibilities, not to mention a viewing urge to find out how it all eventually ends.

One of the most intriguing scenes, though, comes complete with actor Jeff Dowd, as Bobby's former drug dealer. If you don't recognize the name, he's an acquaintance the Coen Brothers patterned their legendary "Dude" after in "The Big Lebowski." Keen eyes also may recognize Helen Udy, who played the recurring role of a hooker in CBS-TV's long-running "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Here, she portrays the divorced Bobby's ever-understanding mother, not to mention the go-to grandma for babysitting his young son on a few frantic visitation weekends.

The rest are mostly newcomers, which occasionally becomes obvious in how some deliver dialogue from first-time writer/director Kyle Schadt. By the way, Schadt gives himself a quick cameo during an outrageous poker game where the film's pivotal Eagle doesn't exactly fly very straightforwardly.

No rating (some language, drugs and glimpses of the body); 1:36; $ $ $ out of $5

("Silent Panic," an official selection of the Studio City International Film Festival, is now streaming on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play and a few other platforms.)

No comments: