Find Her has been dubbed as Brick meets Gone Baby Gone, but at its best moments, its dreamy universe feels like a distant cousin to L.A. Confidential and Memento. There’s a moody vibe in actor-writer-producer-director Nick McCallum’s ambitious noir mystery. Overall, audiences should dig the vibe in this tale, which has just enough legs to carry itself through its nearly 90-minute runtime.
Find Her comes from Kaczmarek Digital Media Group (KDMG). Filmed mostly in Basile, Louisiana, and some parts of Florida, we’re immediately swept into a trippy noir thriller from the get-go. McCallum plays brooding ex-cop Isaiah Slade, who hits a small town determined to find answers to a murdered ranch owner (Robert Marks played by John James) and his missing daughter (Sloane), who have plenty of baggage.
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In a short span of time, it becomes evident Slade entered the picture for personal reasons. And with all the pushback he gets from quirky locals like surviving daughter Beth Marks (Mary Drew Ahrens), Garrett Warner (Garrett Andrew Ahrens), police chief Bill Landon (Richard Gunn), and horseman Felix Leonard (Stelio Savante), he decides to stick around. Any good cop would, after all. But what’s Slade’s agenda?
That’s the rope McCallum wants his audience to keep tugging on.
The Writing in Find Her
The deeper McCallum’s Slade character digs, the more he uncovers. Layer by layer, some new element is revealed related to the overall mystery of Robert’s death and Sloane’s disappearance. One must hand to McCallum for doing it all here as writer, producer, director, and actor. He knows the material well, perhaps culling from a personal intention he set to create a series of films that revolve around somebody trying to “find her”—whether it be a sister, a mother, a wife, etc.
McCallum infuses ex-cop Slade with a believable veneer that smacks of “I’ve been around the block.” The character, who also narrates the story, isn’t the happiest of souls—but this is noir. Who’s happy in noir? Slade is all about self-medicating, and he’s not immune to making poor decisions. When he sleeps with Brandy Warner (Anais Lilit), wannabe pop star/Marks’ young girlfriend and daughter of Garrett Warner (Ahrens), the wealthiest landowner in the county, he uncovers more of the backstory. Apparently, Robert Marks was in debt and Brandy got help from her pop, who, it appears, will eventually own Marks’ ranch.
The plot thickens.
Along the way, Slade’s voiceover takes viewers deeper into his own world. Lines like, “There’s always a lot of chatter in a place like this when something happens to a man like that” or “There’s plenty of stories between these twisted branches,” land well, evoking that intended ethereal noir feel. When Brandy muses, “Sometimes a girl needs to forget her problems — help me forget,” it’s effective. And thoroughly noir.
Overall, the writing in Find Her is effective. McCallum captures the mood and feel of his characters to winning ends. Tommy (Rebecca Lines), Brandy’s confident and a major part of the Warner Universe could have been a throwaway character in the hands of other filmmakers. Here, McCallum gives the character believable grit—she’s worked the land, after all—without losing a level of humanity. Randal Gonzalez’s Detective Alvarez may be hard as nails in the story, yet McCallum gives the character a few unique layers. Wicken Taylor’s Deedee delivers some comic relief—we truly get the sense we’ve run into this character in a small town somewhere.
But does the thread McCallum wants to weave get the results he’s after?
How Find Her Really Measures Up
Find Her Films
Find Her is an enjoyable middle-of-the-road to an above-average indie tale that, at times, feels as if it could have made for a unique streaming series, with a bigger budget and more time for some of the characters and subplots to breathe. Today’s audiences aren’t known for their patience in letting things simmer too long in a film and while Find Her wants its audiences to think about what they’re experiencing, there’s an occasional feeling that things are one beat behind.
As the film hits its one-hour mark, major plot twists are revealed—some you may have seen coming, others more surprising. There’s a mild sense that McCallum had to “wrap things up” and tie everything into a nice creative bow by the final frame. Some dialogue and action sequences teeter here and it’s evident the low budget McCallum had to work with. It’s not that the film feels overly rushed in its second half, it’s more like you’d love to have a bit more in its first half. We don’t get enough time to fully invest in the people we’re experiencing in Find Her and as a result, there are times when their reactions to things seem overdramatic. Typically, that works well in a noir tale and for the most McCallum keeps things on a steady beat, but these brief moments force one to pause.
As danger looms ever more increasingly towards the film’s final moments, there’s no shortage of gore. Or creative spins for that matter. Some characters who we thought served their purpose, surprise us in the last fifteen minutes. McCallum’s clever and calculated with revealing these major “reveals.” Kudos to that.
It’s encouraging. After all, McCallum wants to launch other Find Her films. In that respect, the possibilities seem endless, especially with a bigger budget and more time to allow things to breathe.
Find Her is available on major streaming and cable platforms beginning on October 1.
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