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Camilla Overbye Roos,
Michael is a recovering alcoholic/drug user. Back on the wagon, he's now responsible for a young, beautiful, and pregnant wife. He's working the graveyard shift at a gas station to support his new family, but the job drives him crazy. Then a wealthy stranger, Stuart, enters Michael's life, taking Michael through a tour of the seediest and slimiest parts of L.A. underbelly. Is Stuart leading Michael to hell, or salvation? Written by
Martin Lewison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The devil feeds from your weaknesses and enstills good in temptation. "Shadow Hours" definitely understands this, and shows an interesting Lucifer who dwells in the seedy underworld of Los Angelos.
To say the least, I wasn't blown away by the story's originality, but director Isaac H. Eaton has some brilliant style tricks to keep it fun and intriguing. He is an adroit director working with a mediocre script, and the results are surprisingly good.
Balthazaar Ghetty plays Michael Halloway, a recovering alcoholic who tries to support himself as well as his wife Chloe by working at a seedy gas station on graveyard shift. In this environment, he's bound to see some interesting things. It seems everyone who comes through has exhausted themselves with something...most likely some sort of sin. They are all running on empty as they scurry through the night. There are wonderful sequences where gas meters rise as different things happen, communicating this theme perfectly.
Anyway, he runs into a mugger and a homeless man (who symbolizes his bottom of the barrel outlook), but most importantly, a writer named Stuart Chappell (played by Peter Weller, in easily one of his best performances). Chappell has a strange fixation on Michael, and he takes care of him, clothing him with nice suits, and giving him tons of money to gamble. From the start, it is obvious this guy's a little shady, however. He neglects the fact that Michael is recovering on AA and influences him to start drinking again. Soon, he plunges Michael into a truly harrowing underworld of fight clubs, gambling, drugs and sex.
In one of the most disturbing scenes of recent memory, they go to a bondage club where people get sadomasochistic pleasure from torture. At first, I was angry that Eaton would use this smut to manipulate his audience into feeling shocked (like how Todd Solondz did in his terrible film "Happiness"). Then I realized, Chappell, a satan figure, is indeed masochistic in that he feeds off his victim's pain. Little did Michael know as he looked at these twisted acts, that he was being used as a partner to Chappell's atrocity.
When Michael becomes closer with Chappell, he realizes how much of a lie this man really is. But the perks of being with him are too great, and soon Michael goes too deep into the dark side, hurting Chloe and damaging the new life he forged after leaving AA. I didn't like how the film ends. It takes an easy (and largely taken) way out, keeping itself on a level of simplicity. I believe Eaton is a genius director, but he sells himself short in "Shadow Hours".
I did like a lot of things in this film. I loved the performances by Getty (who also produced), and more so Peter Weller. He plays Stuart as attractive, fun and seemingly caring, but always dark somewhere deep. I liked how the story was paced and told, but it is lacking in overall freshness.
(2 and 1/2 out of 4)
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