247F has the makings of my kind of movie.  It’s flawed but it works.

Main cast: Scout Taylor-Compton and Travis van Winkle

Directors: Levan Bakhia and Beqa Jguburia

As I’ve said in too many previous reviews to mention, I love a simple story. Give me a couple of characters, a single location and one perilous situation and I’m a happy guy. If your story would translate easily to the stage, that’s a movie I want to see. So when I saw the trailer for Levan Bakhia and Beqa Jguburia’s 2011 film 247F, I was already sold. Tyler Mane (Halloween) is in it? Cool. Oh, so is Scout Taylor-Compton? Well, okay I’ll overlook that because it’s the situation I’m interested in and what the writers do with it. I can forgive a terrible actress who most likely plays the main character. After all, I bought both of the Rob Zombie Halloween movies with Taylor-Compton. I can give this one a shot, too.

So I bought the DVD. Then I sat on it for a little over a year before finally taking the time to actually watch the thing. And it was pretty much what I expected.

Four friends–well, two friends, one boyfriend, and a newcomer to the group whose family just happens to own a cabin on a lake–are going to spend the weekend at a pagan festival in a small Georgia town. Ian’s uncle Wade (Tyler Mane) has a cabin he usually rents out but is going to let them borrow it for the weekend.

Jenna is cautious, but her best friend Renee (Christina Ulloa, “Charmed”) insists. Three years earlier, Jenna and her fiance were involved in a car wreck. He died while she remained trapped in the wreckage for a while before being rescued, and ever since she’s not been the same. So this weekend Renee insists Jenna needs to have some fun. And that means going to an isolated cabin with Renee, her drunken boyfriend Michael (Michael Copon, “One Tree Hill”), and a guy Jenna’s never met before.

But she knows she’s not getting any younger and no one said she had to stop mourning her fiance. So she goes along. And when everyone says let’s get in the sauna before we hit the festival, Jenna agrees. As they alternate between the sauna and jumping in the lake a few times, Michael keeps drinking. On the last trip to the sauna, he heads to the bathroom first, but passes out before returning to the hot box. Unfortunately, as he stumbled away, he hit a stray ladder that, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, lodged itself between the hot tub and the door to the sauna, locking the other three inside.

It’s almost 190 degrees in there, and with no access to the controls from inside, Jenna’s claustrophobia, acquired while trapped inside the wreckage with her dead fiance, begins to go out of control. Also, once they break the small window in the door, the thermostat isn’t registering the heat inside the room, which means it’s going to keep running, and the temperature is only going to go up.

The plot is very simple and what attracted me to it, as it does to all movies like this, is the question of how the writers handled the characters and their reactions to the situation. I wondered what actions they would take in order to flesh out the idea and fill a full 90 minutes of movie time. Would the characters use logic to save themselves, or would the writer resort to a deux ex machina to get them out of it? In movies like SAW or the 2010 Shawn Ashmore vehicle Frozen (no relation to the Disney property), these were the questions I wanted answered, and in both cases I was very pleased with the result. That ending to Frozen was brutal. But that’s neither here nor there. In this case of 247F, it was a mix.

Ian tries to think of a few solutions, but none of them work and all of them are mostly him telling Renee or Jenna, “Hand me” this or that. Get it your damned self, I was waiting for one of them to say. Finally, he goes batty and gets himself…well, I won’t spoil it. But I’m sure it’s not hard to figure out.

There’s tension aplenty here and for the most part the acting is pretty well-executed. Even Taylor-Compton doesn’t totally blow it here, but maybe that’s because the bulk of her instruction seemed to be “Okay, in this scene you’re gonna frown and brood, look nervous, okay now pout,” all of which she got plenty of practice on the first movie I saw her in back in 2006, Wicked Little Things. So she’s definitely breaking no new ground here, nor did I expect her to.

My favorite performance had to be Travis van Winkle (Transformers, Friday the 13th) as Ian, who, while he had some really clunky dialogue at times, his personality shone through and brought the character to life as it has in every other role I’ve seen him in. The biggest, and best, surprise of the whole movie, though, was definitely Tyler Mane. Having only seen him in villainous roles, it was a great change of pace to see him, not only deliver dialogue, but smile. He’s still intimidating as hell, and I kept expecting the switch when his character Wade would be revealed as a maniac–a switch which, thankfully, never came–but I really enjoyed him in the limited role he got here.

Levan Bakhia and Beqa Jguburia, who also wrote the screenplay, seem like okay directors. There was a scene with Mane’s character where I think they were leading us to believe he had some evil going on, which was just a cheap mislead I didn’t appreciate, but overall I think they handled the characters and the situation very well, kept my attention and kept me wondering what was going to happen next.

Is it tops in this particular genre? Not even close. For me, Frozen is a hundred times better–possible because I hate the cold much more than I hate the heat, and that one had three people stuck thirty feet in the air on a stalled ski lift with a pack of hungry wolves under them–and I had hoped this one would be a decent counterbalance to that one’s plot.

It’s not, but that one had Adam Green at the helm and he’d already made Hatchet at that point, so he was well-proved. These two, however, not so much. This was their first project and while it wasn’t bad, there was room for improvement. Fortunately I enjoyed this one enough to give them that chance to see what else they can do.

I can recommend 247F for a quick suspense fix. It’s not brilliant, and the plot has several rather gaping holes, but considering the unproved talent running the show, and the fact I usually avoid Taylor-Compton movies altogether, I enjoyed this one well enough to give it a thumbs up.

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