Shadows and reflections play a significant role in Todd Verow’s film "Tumbledown." In fact, the film opens with an intricate play on light and dark that is meant to set the tone, and take you on the film’s journey.
The story circles around Rick (Brad Hallowell), a studly, neighborhood bartender -- the every guy that you’d find holding court at the local watering hole. Rick even hangs a disco ball from his car’s rearview mirror. He’s invited to spend the weekend with a couple, Jay (Todd Verow) and Mike (Brett Faulkner), at their cabin in the woods. Rick accepts and brings along the usual "party favors" to help pass the time.
The trio hike in the mountains, take dips in a lake, sun on the rocks, and engage in the requisite threesome. Rick has the hunky daddy Jay take him from behind while he lathers himself all over twinky Mike. The weekend goes without a hitch. It doesn’t come as a surprise to Rick when he’s asked back for another romp the following weekend, but only Jake is present to receive him. Things then take a terrible turn.
Based on true events, the narrative plays out from varying perspectives. We see the story as it is evolved from Rick’s point of view, Jay’s own obsessive, jealous eye, and even Mike’s own fragile psyche. Drinks are laced. Video cameras are inappropriately used. Rape (or was it consensual?) leading to unprotected sex. What exactly went down on Tumbledown Mountain is anyone’s guess, but there are consequences -- consequences that lead to murder.
Whatever the story is, "Tumbledown" plays to "one note," making it particularly uninteresting to follow, and when the favored shots are those of Jay in the buff, it becomes little more than soft core porn to indulge in. The angles of which the film are compromised are subtle, mostly predictable at times, and "been there, done that." At times it feels like a 70s throwback (soundtrack and a--), bathing its cast in poorly composed red lighting that may, or may not, be deliberately cheesy. It doesn’t help support the story, which starts off predictably flimsy and stays relatively thin throughout. There’s no menace. The alternate "horror" movie ending doesn’t really leave much more to enhance the film’s impact.
"Tumbledown" a film by Todd Verow
available on DVD for $12.95