Family J.M. Logan

Family J.M. Logan
Family is an occasionally creepy, somewhat contrived low-budget thriller, the kind that shows up on late night cable looking way more prurient than it turns out to be. Jean (Renée Humphrey) escapes from prison, ties up a random farm family, robs them and hits the road. Not really planning ahead, she finds that being on the lam is a bitch and hops in the SUV of a seemingly innocuous family man named Eldon (Boyd Kestner) and his painfully shy son, Cole (Tanner Richie), on the first road out of town. Family is a thinly disguised commentary on the nature of (you guessed it) family and the deceptive nature of appearances. Eldon claims he's simply looking for "the real America," road-tripping with his Pokémon-obsessed moppet son, as seemingly innocent a scenario as the quite obviously desperate Jean just hanging out at a gas station in the middle of nowhere simply looking for a ride. Eldon turns out to be a disgraced former cop with a holstered gun and a big bag o' money, and Cole turns out to be a kidnapping victim named Jeremy, who's too petrified to run for help. Director J.M. Logan has worked primarily as a make-up artist, so while it's clear that Family was a bit of a pet project done on a small scale, it's also kind of bizarre that he didn't take the opportunity to show off the handiwork of his trade, or perhaps experiment with something a little out of the ordinary. Besides some superior blood effects near the end, there's nothing in the film that would suggest Mr. Logan's background. Family is suspenseful enough, Logan and screenwriter Hudson Shock cleverly provide ample opportunities for Jean and Cole to escape, while also realistically understanding the inherent paradoxes of the situation, and the actors are all intriguing. But there's also a sterile blandness to the film that makes it indistinguishable from hundreds of other thrillers of the same type. The disc's single bonus feature is a trailer. (MVD)