DVD Review - Desert Son

The final frame of this movie is the DVD cover photo. It's the main character named Phillip standing on a dirt path in the middle of a wide shot that has desert and mountains behind him and to his right, the remnants of abandoned houses. How Phillip got there almost doesn't matter. Why he stays there does, and I'm not sure if writer and co-director James Mann wanted that to be the true horror.
Phillip, played by John Bain, finds himself abandoned in what might be the Mojave desert. He stumbles upon a vacant mining town that's actually not so vacant. Living in the empty, worn-down houses are Lucy and Jack. Lucy takes Phillip in, despite Jack's objection, but once Phillip is given a bicycle and is shown how to get back to "civilization," why he chooses to stay in the abandoned houses and in the so-called remnants of this town isn't made clear. I suppose it could be because he falls in love with Lucy, an orphan and runaway who's living in this deserted town with Jack who Phillip quickly learns is her psychotic boyfriend.
Why Lucy is involved with someone who is so clearly psychotic is never explained either. Nathan Halliday who plays Jack is perhaps too over-the-top, but he is by far the most entertaining thing about this movie. Lucy brushes off Phillip's behavior, but it gets to a point where he's just undeniably crazy and yet Lucy and Phillip still stick around him. It makes no sense. We are perhpas to believe that Lucy and Phillip have nowhere else to go. Except, this is not exactly true for Phillip, but his alternative would seem to compel him to stay in the desert.
Mann comments on the emptiness in the desert being like the emptiness of what some might call a normal, suburban life. Jack in particular hates any semblance of materialism, yet he appears to have no values beyond animalistic survival or a vague notion of sensualism. Jack could just be a young anarchist as well.
The issues surrounding why the town is abandoned and the religious rantings of a crazed priest were interesting avenues the filmmakers could have explored more deeply, but those channels were merely brushed over. Erica Curtis who portrays Lucy is given a little bit more backstory than Jack, but the movie devolves into a thriller concerning Jack's lunacy, and, the tension built between Jack and Phillip is what's truly scary.
Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 32 mins.


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