Film Review: Junction

Attempt at all-out edginess is just gruesome for participants and audience alike.

If you're still in mourning over the wind-up of “Breaking Bad” and in need of more meth-addict shenanigans, then perhaps Junction is for you. First-time director/screenwriter Tony Glazer trains his lens on four penniless druggies—Donald (Neal Bledsoe), David (Tom Pelphrey), Spot (Harris Doran) and Kari (Summer Crockett Moore)—who, to get their desperate fix from dealer Tai (Anthony Ruivivar)—need to steal a television for his mother. They break into the deserted home of a couple who have just moved in, and while ransacking the joint come across a hoard of child pornography. Donald, himself a victim of pedophilia, goes berserk, and when the home's owner Connor (Anthony Rapp) returns, viciously attacks him and ties him up. Soon, Connor's wife and small daughter are similarly bound and gagged.

As the psychotic Donald continues to torment them, as well as his put-upon crime crew, the little girl manages to make a 911 call, bringing in a fumbling couple of cops, Lt. Tarelli (David Zayas) and his colleague Walters (Michael O’Keefe), to deal with what has now become a hostage situation.

This stomach-turning mix of black comedy and crime thriller has "edgy" stamped all over it with thunderous force. For anyone out there wanting to make a case for American films being excessively and meaninglessly violent, this could easily be Exhibit A. Glazer revels in the spectacle of human beings being overtly cruel to one another, be it Tai's beat-downs of non-paying customers or Donald's endless terrorizing of that frightened family, which includes a broomstick shoved down Connor's throat. The pedophilia gambit is cynically, infuriatingly overworked here to explain away all the brutality, and you in the audience feel every bit as much a hostage, waiting for this fearsome farrago to spin itself out.

Were it invested with anything like true, mordant wit or psychological insight, the film might be justified, but it's nothing more than an exercise in self-righteous self-indulgence and a tyro filmmaker's desire to wow us by banging us (and his actors) over the head repeatedly. It's as if the m.o. were to out-Tarantino Tarantino, but without any of his redeeming talent.

The cast is certainly committed: grunting, sweating, bleeding and shrieking away at one another, with a self-consciously intense Doran particularly mining for sick laughs which simply are not there. You wonder if those cops, especially Zayas with his Elmer Fudd intonations, were meant to be as risible as they come off here. You also wonder why in hell Anthony Rapp, the originator of one of the leads in the musical Rent, would have ever signed up for this job. And that twist at the end, primed to elicit gasps of astonishment, will likely produce nothing more than one huge collective groan.