THE STORY – Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deep into the criminal underbelly of their hometown, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.
THE CAST – Morgan Saylor, Sophie Lowe, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugot, Gayle Rankin, Will Brittain, Skipp Sudduth, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, June Squibb & Margo Martindale
THE TEAM – Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy (Directors & Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 91 Minutes
By Dan Bayer
Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole’s “Blow The Man Down” begins, as all good films should, with a sea shanty. It’s sung by a chorus of fishermen, some of whom sing directly into the camera, inviting the audience into the world of a fictional coastal town in Maine. But these men aren’t what the film is about (nor is the film a musical, unfortunately), it’s about the formidable women of the town.
When Mary Margaret Connolly (Linda Shary) dies, she leaves behind her two daughters, good girl Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and angsty Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), her fish shop, and her house, along with a mountain of debt. Mary Beth, in particular, is upset, as she was to leave the remote port town for college. So, on the night of her mother’s wake, she eventually ends up in the car of a shady man she met at the local bar. After they both have some drinks and he snorts some coke, he makes a pass at her. Unnerved, she accidentally drives the car into a roadside sign, and after getting a glimpse of what’s in the car’s trunk, she realizes that this is all far too shady for her. But the guy won’t let her get away, and she eventually ends up killing him with a harpoon. Will Priscilla help her cover it up? Will they get away with it? Just who was that guy anyway?
“Blow The Man Down” is thick with atmosphere, not just the fog-and-twilight kind, but the kind that’s found in small details of character and place. You become immersed in the town’s world rather quickly as we slowly learn more and more about its denizens and what life is like there. It’s so richly imagined that it feels like it was adapted from a novel, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, it may have been better as a novel, or a miniseries, or even a slightly longer film. There’s so much to explore that you want to spend more time in it; spend more time with the elder women (a rogue’s gallery of fantastic character actresses) in the town’s past tougher times; spend more time with the sisters before their mom died. There’s so much here, and so little time is spent exploring it. The film feels somewhat incomplete as a result.
Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Right from the film’s opening sequence, there’s a sly, off-kilter sense of humor that keeps popping up in unexpected places. It disappears for a bit once the plot kicks into high gear, but it comes back with a vengeance towards the end. The score by Brian McOmber and Jordan Dykstra is striking and mixes well with that humor to create a heady cocktail of genuinely intriguing suspense. The performances are all fantastic, with Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor creating a believably fraying sisterly bond. The short run-time also works in the film’s favor in some ways as the film never wears out its welcome. But it’s impossible to shake the feeling that with more time to explore this place and these characters, this could have been something quite special. Instead, it’s merely well-done.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – An ever so slightly off-kilter tone, plentiful dark humor, and a killer score make for a unique viewing experience.
THE BAD – At barely 90 minutes, lots of plot and character detail gets glossed over.
THE OSCARS – None