Josie (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: The arrival of a mysterious teenage girl in their town shakes up the lives of a delinquent classmate and a man haunted by his past.

REVIEW: The latest film from CONTRACTED director Eric England, JOSIE is one of those ticking time bomb movies where you know something terrible is going to happen, you just can't be sure exactly what it's going to be… or who is going to be hurt worse when the bad things finally go down. So you sit enrapt, thoroughly absorbed in every passing minute, waiting to see when and how everything is going to fall apart.

The Josie of the title is a mysterious, tatted up high school girl (played by Sophie Turner) who arrives in a town by herself, instantly drawing the interest of anyone who lays eyes on her. Some of them are curious about her because she has moved into a motel alone, with no sign of parents or guardians. Throughout the film she gives multiple reasons for the absence of her parents, so we know she has some secrets that will be revealed by the end. But what are those secrets? Why is she lying to people? Which of the stories she tells is the truth? Turner plays this secretive character so well that we can never quite get a good read on her, we can't tell if she's a positive or a negative presence, if she's manipulating situations or an innocent who's just caught up in it all.

Within minutes of attending her first class at the local high school, Josie has fallen in with the questionable company of Marcus (Jack Kilmer, son of Val), who she partners with on a school project and who will proceed to do his best to get her out of her clothes, and his buddy Gator, played by the HALLOWEEN remake's little Michael Myers Daeg Faerch, who has some amusing moments here.

Less appropriate attention is shown to Josie by her neighbor Hank (Dylan McDermott), who also works as a parking lot monitor at the high school – and his fascination with this teenage girl is enough to make you think maybe he shouldn't have a job that keeps him in the vicinity of high school kids. You also hope Hank will come to his senses and not cross the line with this girl, because he is an interesting character. His quiet demeanor and old school country ways were appealing to me, and McDermott delivers an awesome performance in the role. I'll admit that I haven't seen much of his extensive television work, so maybe I've been missing out on his greatness up to this point, but I've seen him around here and there over the thirty years he's been acting on the screen and I never gave him much consideration before this. He is truly great as Hank.

Hank has been living in this motel for a while, but he mostly keeps to himself, and we see that he is a troubled man in his private life, haunted by something in his past. At different times he hallucinates the image of a long haired man (Micah Fitzgerald) in a prison jumpsuit; another mystery England has us on the hook for, waiting for an explanation.

Josie puts herself in the center of a love triangle where there's not a whole lot of real love going on. While they're both drawn to her in their own ways and for their own reasons, Hank and Marcus can't stand each other. Hank doesn't like Marcus because he's an annoying delinquent, Marcus doesn't like Hank not only because he's an authority figure at the school, but also because of the rumors he's heard about Hank's past. Something about cutting up dead bodies. Jealousy over the fact that Josie spends time with both of them intensifies Hank and Marcus's dislike for each other, and soon they're lashing out at each other.

That time bomb gets closer and closer to detonation.

I had no idea where the story writer Anthony Ragnone II had crafted for JOSIE was going, and as it went along I started to dread the terrible events we all expect to happen. For most of its running time, the film plays like a straightforward drama, but it's the intuition that the characters are treading dangerous ground that gives it the feeling of being a thriller. Which it is ultimately confirmed to be. When things finally did go wrong, it was painful to watch because I had come to care for these characters and didn't want to see anything bad happen to them. 

The climax does bring to mind some questions and there are choices made by both characters and the filmmakers that I don't agree with, but some shakiness in the final moments didn't bring down the entire film. I can set aside any last minute issues because overall JOSIE is so well acted and deeply intriguing. It was a captivating viewing experience.

Josie (Movie Review)



Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.