Movie Review: ‘Junction,’ a Thriller Directed by Tony Glazer
Dope-sick and out of cash, four meth addicts embark on an impromptu robbery in an upscale neighborhood. Their dealer, Tai (Anthony Ruivivar), needs a television as a birthday gift for his mother; in return, David (Tom Pelphrey) — the most rational of the meth heads and the group’s designated driver — will score some product, along with Tai’s unpredictable good will.
So much for the setup of “Junction,” a cleverly constructed hostage thriller cum morality play, written and directed by Tony Glazer. Disguised by a smooth mix of menace and comedy (a heated, druggy argument quickly devolves into uncontrollable coughing), the film’s first 15 minutes suggest we are about to witness a shaggy crime caper laced with romantic rivalry. Once inside the home occupied by a young couple and their small daughter, however, our strung-out thieves discover that their victims are not what they seem.
Executing a tonal shift that might challenge a more seasoned director (this is his first film), Mr. Glazer provides carefully choreographed action and violence that’s both credible and divorced from sadism. Some predictable plot turns aren’t as damaging as they could be, thanks to solid acting (there isn’t a weak performance in the bunch) and lead characters with distinct personalities and motivations.
Adrian Correia guides his camera around tight indoor spaces with unobtrusive ease — keeping us aware of the locations of seven people can’t have been easy — and hiccups in logic are easy to dismiss. When you’re jonesing for methamphetamine, critical thinking is pretty far down your list.
— Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Movie Review: A robbery involving four meth addicts results in surprising revelations in Tony Glazer’s dark thriller.
A quietly effective thriller with a few clever narrative tricks up its sleeve, Tony Glazer’s debut feature overcomes its low-budget limitations with clever variations on its familiar genre as well as a taut execution and strong performances from a cast that includes such familiar faces as David Zayas (Dexter), Anthony Rapp (Rent) and Michael O’Keefe (The Great Santini). The tale of four meth addicts who attempt to rob a suburban home only to become embroiled in a far messier situation than they bargained for, Junction should serve as a strong calling card for its tyro writer/director.
The criminal quartet—Donald (Neal Bledsoe), David (Tom Pelphrey), Spot (Harris Doran) and Kari (Summer Crocket Moore) are clearly jonesing for their next fix from their longtime dealer Tai (Anthony Ruivivar). Unfortunately for them, they’re also suffering from a severe shortage of funds, so they decide to take Tai up on his offer of exchanging drugs for a new flat-screen television for his mom.
Spotting a well-appointed house, the obviously inexperienced crooks break in only to discover a stash of child pornography DVDs as well as numerous photographs of a couple and their young daughter. This outrages the volatile Donald, who viciously attacks the father (Rapp) when he unexpectedly returns home. The wife (Sharon Maguire) and daughter (Danielle Kotch) enter shortly thereafter, and what began as a simple burglary soon devolves into a hostage situation with the arrival of the cops led by negotiator Lt. Tarelli (Zayas) and his colleague (O’Keefe).
Internal tensions within both groups quickly lead to chaos as the tense situation becomes ever more violent. But the filmmaker is clearly less interested in the usual cops-and-robbers interactions than in exploring the moral issues being raised. It all ends with a nasty twist that effectively upends our perceptions of what’s been going on.
While Junction, which feels at times like a extended episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, is ultimately too slight to have the intended impact, its tense and pungent atmospherics make it compelling viewing along the way.
— Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
Movie Review: JUNCTION — DVD Review by PORFLE
An interesting low-budget thriller, JUNCTION (2012) mixes equal parts morbid humor and nail-biting suspense with a plot that keeps heading up unexpected pathways and getting more and more intense as it goes along.
The four main leads all do excellent work as a group of edgy addicts huddled in a dilapidated car on their way to try and score some more meth. David (Tom Pelphrey), the de facto leader of the group because it’s his car, is at a disadvantage when dealing with meth-lab maestro Tai (Anthony Ruivivar, STARSHIP TROOPERS) since he doesn’t have any money.
Tai, who operates out of his mom’s basement, comes up with a deal–he’ll supply the goodies if David and company come up with a TV set for his mom’s birthday. Thus given an offer they can’t refuse, the four jonesing junkies set off on a mission to break-and-enter their way back to wellness.
— Porfle, HK AND CULT FILM NEWS
DVD Review: JUNCTION
Junction is an exceptional, exciting, intense character-driven thriller about a simple burglary that escalates into a hostage situation, but is about so much more.
Junction begins with a bit of voice over narration describing a childhood nightmare, whose main image has never quite disappeared. Then during the opening credits we see a group of four people in car, in a series of close-ups from outside the car. Each person is isolated, from us because of the barrier of the windows, and from each other through the choice of single shots. None of them is talking.
— Pop Culture Beast
Movie Review: Junction (2012) – Thriller/Suspense Movie Review
I love when a film takes an unexpected turn and it doesn’t take long to go in that direction with the 2012 film JUNCTION. Released by Grand Entertainment Group, JUNCTION concerns a group of junkies looking for their next fix. David (Tom Pelphrey) makes a deal with a drug dealer to steal a TV and it all goes according to plan until David and his group of friends stumble across the homeowner’s dirty secret.
In the attic, the group finds a box of child pornography and that sends Donald (Neal Bledsoe) into a rage. His past molestation is revealed and he now has a personal stake in this. After seeing pictures of a young girl in the home, he vows to protect her by killing her dad. He beats him severely and then ties him to a chair when his wife and child enter the house. Now we have a hostage situation. Four junkies holding a family with a dark secret hostage.
— Geno McGahee, Scared Stiff Reviews
Movie Review: Junction
Often a smaller film allows for you, as the audience, to leave perceptions from an actor at the door; Ryan Gosling’s smug smirk for example (it was not there when he was pure; see The United States of Leland for example). And here, Junction is very much richer for the lack of brand name actor de jour attached. The performances are great, and you have no clue as to where or when a shift in dynamic is coming. The cast’s usual is not known! It makes for a visceral viewing ; which, is what appears to be its point. Junction is a tightly scripted, excellently edited drama with a lot of tight wire tensions; absolutely due to its cast.
Story goes…it is just another day in the life of once human meth addicts looking for the next fix; and all the work that goes into getting the high. But, the dealer (Anthony Ruivivar), who is into bartering, suggests he would take a TV for his mom. A kind gesture no?
Hmm. Drug rattled brains or not, where does one get a television at dawn, without any money? Oh my, of course. Someone’s home.
— Emily Blunt, Blunt Review
DVD Review: Junction
Junction is a very strange film, but strange in a good way. When it ended I wasn’t quite sure what I had experienced, I just knew I liked it—a lot. This story about four meth heads robbing a house to get a television set, then stumbling on to a disturbing secret, shouldn’t have any moments of levity, but it does. Writer/director Tony Glazer manages to successfully mesh his film’s offbeat sense of humor with the serious subject of drug addiction—and he makes it all look completely plausible.
In one humorous scene, Spot takes offense at something Donald says and lunges at him from the backseat. David steps in to try and break up the melee, which becomes pretty heated until all three men fall into a coughing fit, thus ending the fight even before it really got started. It’s a hilarious moment that has this classic comedy feel to it, yet underneath there’s a tragic quality because these young men have obviously done some major damage to their bodies with their excessive drug use. This scene above all is a testament to the film’s ability to make us laugh while at the same time showing us the serious nature of the character’s lives.
— Judge Alice Nelson, DVD Verdict
Movie Press: Big Bad Wolves, Junction, and Sorcerer come to home video
Hollywood seems to be taking a break this week with recent theatrical films coming to home video, but there are still some titles of interest worth checking out. The Tarantino-endorsed revenge thriller Big Bad Wolves hopes to get a wider audience this week, as does the home-grown indie Junction which stars David Zayas (Oz, Dexter), Michael O’Keefe, Anthony Rapp, and my friend (shout out!) Bryan Deehring. Not a movie (but probably will be some day) but a filmed stage play, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Neighbors from Hell makes its video debut. Catalog titles getting new life on Blu-ray include both versions of Get Carter, Conspiracy Theory, Exit Wounds, Hit the Deck, and The Pawnbroker, and the long-awaited high-def restoration of William Friedkin’s cult classic Sorcerer finally makes its way to Blu-ray. And if you’re looking for something a little different, you can pick up the Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection box set! These titles and more will be available on April 22. You can see all of the week’s highlights on our shopper’s guide, and you can support CliqueClack by making a purchase through any link in the guide!
— Chuck Duncan, Clique Clack
DVD Review: ‘Junction’ DVD: Home-Grown Terror
This review of the uber-intense 2012 thriller “Junction,” which terrific indie film distributor Grand Entertainment Group is releasing on DVD on April 22, 2014, resumes the relationship between Grand and Unreal TV following a rave review for the hilarious horror comedy “Chastity Bites” a few months ago.
Reviews of other titles will follow in the next few weeks, and an exciting possibility exists regarding Grand releasing S9 of the exceptional Syfy series “Ghost Hunters” in June 2014. Suffice it to say that your (sometimes) humble reviewer may need to download the specter detector app, which owes its name to the uber-awesome ’70s cartoon “Goober and the Ghostchasers.”
In the case of “Junction,” the primary beings are both malevolent and fully flesh-and-blood. Further, they are much more frightening than a dot of light floating down a hallway.
“Junction” writer/director Tony Glazer directly takes a page from the Hitchcock playbook in setting the terror in an upscale residential neighborhood. The well-proven theory is that something is much scarier if you can realistically imagine the same thing happening to you.
The seemingly simple premise of “Junction” is that a quartet of exceptionally well-cast meth-heads quasi-randomly select a house in their quest to fulfill a mission to steal a television. Of course, the movie would have been far shorter and much less interesting if they had just grabbed the set and driven off without incident.
— Classic DVD Reviews
DVD Review: JUNCTION
Very good, very, very hard to watch.
Warning: Do NOT under any circumstances let kids watch this film. It has a very violent and adult plot that simply isn’t appropriate for ANY child to see. Additionally, take care if you watch the film because it is so violent AND because the subject matter might be too traumatic for victims of sexual abuse to watch no matter what their age.
Four meth addicts are looking for a fix but they haven’t got any money. So, their supplier suggests they steal a TV and he’ll supply them with drugs. And, being desperate drug addicts, they soon locate a likely home and find a nice flat screen TV. However, in the process, one of the addicts finds another TV—one hooked up to a DVD machine. He turns it on and soon sees that there is child porn on the disc—as well as all the other discs he finds in the attic cache.
— Martin Hafer INFLUX Magazine
First Time Fest 2013: ‘JUNCTION’ Review
A group of four meth addicts — David (Tom Pelphrey), Donald (Neal Bledsoe), Kari (Summer Corckett Moore), and Spot (Harris Doran) are broke and in need to score. David approaches their dealer, Tai (Anthony Ruivivar), hoping for a “favor.” Tai says he’ll give them some drugs if they can get him a television for his mother’s birthday. The foursome then plan to break into a house in a nice neighborhood and steal a television. David picks a house that he recently saw moving trucks in front of — he assumes the family hasn’t had time to install security systems — and the four addicts break into the house.
Few movies pull off a tonal shift as successfully as Junction. The opening scenes depict a group of addicts who only seem to enjoy each others’ company as long as the meth lasts. Their bumbling robbery skills are humorous, and the comments they make about things are funny in the sense that they would be remarkably obvious or uninteresting to people who aren’t strung out on drugs. But once Donald discovers a disturbing secret while robbing the house there are few laughs left in the movie. This sudden transition makes Donald’s discovery all the more startling.
As they debate what to do about what they discovered, the father of the family, Connor (Anthony Rapp), comes home. Donald launches into a rage and refuses to be talked out of killing Donald, and when pressed why he reveals an awful experience in his youth that directly relates to the situation. The once good-natured Donald becomes increasingly irrational as he exorcises his personal demons by taking them out on Connor. The entire situation only becomes increasingly complicated once the mother, Jennifer (Sharon Maguire), and daughter Mia (Danielle Kotch) come home and enter the madness. The police eventually are clued in on the situation and surround the house, and what began as a simple smash-and-grab robbery becomes a hostage situation with deep moral issues. The movie also follows Police Lieutenant Tarelli (David Zayas), who is in charge of the hostage situation. Tarelli is unsure about how to handle the situation — there are suggestions that he made errors in judgment responding to a recent bank robbery and these errors haunt him — and this adds another wrinkle of tension to the plot.
One of the great details about Junction is that the actors were willing to look like actual meth addicts. I always find it a bit off-putting when A-list Hollywood actors and actresses play drug addicts and do nothing but make their eyes a bit red. The four leads are pale, unkempt, and have dry lips and rotted teeth, and even David’s car is held together by duct tape. Furthermore, the four also act like addicts (there’s a clever moment where the four are arguing in the car and it soon turns into a coughing fit for everyone). It’s refreshing to see a movie about drug users that doesn’t spend the first half focusing on the “fun” aspects of drug use only to spend the last half spiraling downward — there’s no up here: these are the junkies your mother warned you of becoming.
Yet though they’re all desperate addicts, each has a distinct personality, which helps viewers care about these otherwise despicable people. David, who is the ringleader (primarily because he’s the only one with a car, as Spot points out), has the ambition to eventually get clean, especially since it’s clear that Tai wants to recruit him into his operations whether David wants to or not. Spot, the runt of the group, is quick to anger and never fails to escalate the situations they’re confronted with to worse degrees. Kari has the most conscience, and she soon becomes committed to ensuring that the maximum amount of people — both her friends and family — escape the standoff alive.
On the other hand, Donald is an interesting case. He starts out the film as one of those movie stoners — the type that are always a few steps behind everyone but still manage some clever quips between saying “you know, man” — so one weak aspect of the film is that Donald goes from being a barely-intelligent mumbler to crying torturer to committed antagonist rather quickly. I know it isn’t a long movie, but making Donald look really stupid in the beginning of the film didn’t make his eventual anger any more shocking, it just seemed like Bledsoe was portraying two different characters. The character’s extreme change is the only part of the tonal shift that doesn’t go smoothly.
After spending much of my week watching movies by first-time filmmakers, I found it hard to believe that writer/director Tony Glazer was among them. He handles the material and the tension with a maturity beyond rookie ability, resulting in a movie that people who see it will be unable to stop talking about. It’s sometimes difficult for even master directors to pull off effective thrillers, so Glazer is a name definitely worth following in the future.
Rating: A thriller that will not only leave you guessing, but shocked (8/10).
— Chris McKittrick, First Time Fest
Dark, and Riveting
The cold, dry winter air is broken by the sound of a dilapidated auto rolling slowly down the street. Inside, Spot, Donald, Kari, and David – all meth addicts looking to score. Like most of their kind, they have no money, and strike a bargain with Tai, a charismatic psychopath who really loves his mother, for enough to get them through the day. A color TV for Mom’s birthday.
The mark is easy enough. A quiet, upscale house, recently moved in to. They won’t have had time to unpack everything. Spot is worried, Donald is unfocused. Kari and David want to get in, and out as quickly as possible. However inside the house, Donald discovers a dirty, dark secret that throws him back in memory to a time he prayed he could forget. Filling now, with a growing resolve, Donald lies in wait for the family to get home. Before the rest can escape, the family arrives. Choices are limited…
“Junction” has the grit and the feel of real life on the mean streets. There are no pretty people, and no one can be entirely innocent. As an independent film, it hits several home runs. Just as you think the plot runs into an inescapable corner, Writer-Director Tony Glazer jolts to the left, and jolts back to the right again. Solid performances by the cast have you sitting on the edge of your seat, feeling the despair and the hope, and the pain. At times, you don’t know who to root for!
— Greg Neff, CenFlo International Film Festival
Gripping Tale of Suspense
The dramatic initial scene of this film quiets the theater as it renders the audience locked to the story, eyes unable to move from the screen. Things are not as they appear in the village of Venterra Hill, which tags itself as “A Nice Place to Live”. The neighborhood has its own security, the lawns are manicured, the homes have a certain curb appeal, even in the gray days of the early winter, when this story seems to take place.
The 4 main characters are seen driving within this neighborhood, their car barely held together by masking tape and string, signifying to this viewer, the emotional disrepair of those who ride inside of that car, themselves barely held together, both individually and as a group. When the decision is made to enter one of these homes, in clear violation of the law, we are shown layers of the 4 would-be bad guys, making it difficult to claim that any character in this film is either completely good or completely bad. This is what appeals to me most; the ability of the writer/director Tony Glazer, to communicate to the audience that there are characteristics within all that are not clear cut and not readily seen based upon the label that may be attached to each of us. Mr. Glazer cleverly uses symbolism throughout the film; using the National Anthem as the doorbell chime of the home, asking the audience, in effect…”Oh say can you see???” while still hinting at what appears to be “The American Dream’ gone horribly awry. At another point in this engaging film, the camera pans at least two decorative birds, not with their wings spread, as is the American symbol of freedom, but, rather, birds at rest, simply decorations in a horrific nightmare of the childhood memory of one of the main characters.
Without giving too much away, it is safe to say that this film is engaging from the moment it begins until the minute you are supposed to get up and leave, but find that getting up and leaving in and of itself is difficult. “Junction” is a dark movie, sprinkled with lines that permit the audience to laugh out loud, again mimicking the idea that all is either good or evil. It is those moments of levity that then lead to even darker moments.
I highly recommend this film with the clear warning that adults should view this movie without children present and take away the realization that one person’s choice touches the lives of so many. It is a clear reminder to choose wisely while understanding that things are much more than what they seem.
— Anne Alperlaw, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
My review and pictures of “Junction” Q&A at 2012 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
On Friday, November 9, 2012 I attended the gala Southeast Premiere of Junction at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The screening was held at the legendary Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a selection in the American Indie Features section.
Four meth addicts are on the way to get their next fix. Their dealer has in the past, and is willing today, to trade sex for drugs. But on this day the tweakers resist and the group comes up with a better idea. Steal a television for the dealer’s mom. Simple, right? But life doesn’t work that way. There are forks in the road, and when one comes to such a junction a decision must be made which will change the course of a life forever. I can sit through dozens of films at festivals just to get to that one “WOW” movie. When it does come along (assuming it does) it’s so refreshing that it’s hard to contain my enthusiasm.
Writer/director/producer Tony Glazer’s Junction is one of those low budget American indies that has everything going for it, from Adrian Correia’s appropriately claustrophobic handheld cinematography to Austin Wintory’s tension-inducing original score to deliberately paced editing by Phyllis Housen. It was shot in Fort Lee NJ with an incredible ensemble cast including Tom Pelphrey, Neal Bledsoe, Harris Doran, Summer Crockett Moore, Anthony Rapp, Sharon Maguire, Danielle Kotch, Anthony Ruivivar, Michael O’Keefe, and David Zayas. There are far too many plot twists and revelations in Junction to touch upon without revealing spoilers, so I’ll just say that this film will take you to totally unexpected places. It’s a slow burn for the first act but worth the time and patience to get to the rollercoaster ride that follows.
I selected Junction as one of my Top 6 Picks in the US Narrative Feature category. See my wrapup article.
Writer/director/producer Tony Glazer introduced the film along with Associate Producer Matt De Matt Reines and stars Neal Bledsoe, Sharon Maguire, Summer Crockett Moore, and Tom Pelphrey. The group returned after the screening for an entertaining and informative Q&A session. At the Awards Presentation on Sunday, November 11, Junction won a Spirit of Independents Award.
Here are some pictures I shot during intro and Q&A: GALLERY (34 photos on 2 pages)
— Larry Richman, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
AMFM Fest Premiere of “Junction”: A Review
As AMFM Fest jumps into its third day of film, music, and art showcases, one movie is already creating buzz. “Junction,” starring Anthony Rapp of “Dazed and Confused,” dives into the psyche of four distinct, meth-addled characters. Overcome with their addiction, this group of users set out on a theft mission, only to find themselves in a troublesome situation when things go awry. At that point, they must redefine the role of vigilante, while simultaneously striking the viewer in a moral conundrum. Driven by its powerful plot, the beauty of the film is also seeing these characters develop and reveal layers of themselves that expose the reality of human nature.
Donald, played by Neal Bledsoe, embodies the “gentle giant” trope, but his quick, yet believable, snap into a figurative Hulk jars the viewer. The other characters also seem to struggle not only with the overt forces becoming complications, but also the covert challenges of their drug withdrawal. Almost as a foil to the character of Donald, Lieutenant Tarelli, played by David Zayas of “Dexter,” provides a sense of clear-headed passion. This can only be a testament to the strong acting and writing of the team.
Writer and director Tony Glazer prepared the cast with hours of research, fully immersing them in the reality of their drug addicted characters. Glazer told the audience that the inspiration came from his own experiences with people dealing with meth, as well as real cases that happened elsewhere within the US.
In the film, Donald has a moment of complete lucidity that is probably the most poignant part, which only says how well Bledsoe acted the role. If criticism is needed, the only facet that could have been improved was the makeup, which often times looked blatant, obvious, and contrived. Regardless, the film is steeped in strong, confident writing with a theater-trained cast to support it. It’s through subtle nuances and foreshadowing techniques, coupled with superb sound and music direction, that Glazer captures the audience. The small bits of Shakespeare-esque comedy also were a welcome element of contrast.
Before coming to the AMFM Fest, the film had already done a run of film festivals, garnering many awards along the way: the Jury Award at the 2013 SoHo Film Festival, for example. Catching up with the cast and production team after the screening, it was revealed that Junction will be playing in theaters within the next few months. If you miss it, or like it so much that you want your own copy, it’ll be available on video on demand by the end of the year.
— My City Everyday, AMFM Fest
Even before the award-winning series, Breaking Bad, came onto the screen, writer and director Tony Glazer wanted to expose the thought process of an addict and what lengths you will go to get your product. Take that series and blend it with Criminal Minds and you got yourself an action-packed thriller of a tale with an exceptional cast:
Neil Bledsoe (Smash, & Law & Order SVU), Danielle Kotch, David Zayas (Dexter & The Following), Anthony Ruivivar (Southland, Banshee, & The Adjustment Bureau), Tom Pelfrey (As The World Turns), Yvonne Jung (Third Watch), Pat Patterson (Blood Relatives), Summer Crockett Moore (Royal Pains), and Bryan Deehring all come together to keep you on your toes with this drama.
“Junction” is surely not to be missed as it premieres at The Big Picture Cinema on Friday, June 28 at 9:30 p.m. for the ReelHeART International Film Festival.
In a press release, Glazer put it plainly: “Junction is about choice. How, why, when we choose or do not choose, when we are morally conflicted about it, when we could care less – and the consequences that sometimes follow.”
Donald, Kari and Spot are feeling the effects of methamphetamine withdrawal and help David snatch a television to make up the cost. At first, it’s a get in, get out situation in an upscale, picture-perfect neighbourhood but quickly escalates to something more and fast. Donald insists on grabbing a second television just in case but his alter-ego arises as he is reminded of his own dark past with what he stumbles upon. He is held not only in contempt of the situation gone badly finding out Mr. is not as innocent as he looks, but comes to terms with his own demons bringing the entire cast to a standstill.
His vigilantism emerges and decided there is a way to save, even if you’re a bad person. The tables have turned; all three druggies don’t want to be a part of it anymore. Stealing a television for drugs is one thing but going down the dark path of self-righteous justice is more destructive especially with murderous eyes. Two wrongs don’t make a right but you’ll be equally surprised with the twists in this dramatic film. One thing is for sure…no one is getting in and no one is getting out unscathed.
For more on the actors, click here for an interview with MCB News.com reporter Jason Layden on the red carpet at New Film Makers L.A. earlier this year. Check out the movie’s website at www.junctionthemovie.com to get the scoop.
— 2013 REELHEART INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL BLOG