The ambiguously titled Girl gives you no indications of the roller coaster that will take place in Chad Faust’s feature directorial debut. Having worked as an actor for many years, starring in films such as 2004’s Saved and the series The 4400, Faust not only wrote and directed Girl, but also starred in it alongside Bella Thorne (The DUFF 2015, The Babysitter: Killer Queen 2020) and Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart 1987, Iron Man 2 2010).
Released in select theaters on November 20th, as well as on VOD November 24th via Screen Media, while Girl is not perfect by any means, it still harbors an exciting plot and a stellar cast that together create a formula for a solid film. Leading star, Bella Thorne, known only as ‘girl,’ is a damaged young woman burdened by her troubled past, mainly her issues with her estranged father who was abusive towards her mother.
After receiving a mysterious letter from her dad, the girl sets out on a journey to find her father and murder him for what he has done to her and her mother. That in mind, she has not seen her father since she was six, and she recounts the time she did spend with him where he taught her how to throw a hatchet – a skill that will later serve her well. Interestingly, after all these years she has kept the hatchet, branded with her father’s initials and intends to use it to kill him, a seemingly ironic and justified death in her eyes.
Immediately after she travels to the town where her dad is said to reside, there is an air of suspicion. From the moment she steps foot in the town’s dingy, hole-in-the-wall bar you can tell something is not quite right with the locals. She meets the town sheriff (Rourke) who right off the bat, is unsettling and rubs her the wrong way. Everyone around her seems to know something she does not about her father, and herself for that matter. She eventually locates her father’s address in a local phonebook and after travelling to his farmhouse, discovers his lifeless body in the shed. This sends her on a wild goose chase to find who killed him before she could get her hands on him. In her search she becomes entangled with two brothers, their web of lies, and corruption that is somehow connected to her family.
The moment Thorne’s disheveled appearance is on the screen, the solemn and dark mood is displayed. It is gloomy, odd, and you are curious as to what is going to happen next as you follow her on the beginning steps of her journey. This is the case from her phone call to her mother that clearly alludes to something more sinister to her first interactions with the towns people; especially those that are overly aggressive and sexually charged. That in mind, Thorne does a fantastic job at depicting the protagonist’s turmoil, causing a reaction that is almost palpable as you experience everything alongside her. There is so much that lurks beneath the gritty and cold surface that as the tale unfolds and more secrets come to light, you are just as flustered and distraught as the girl is.
Intense as it may be, unfortunately, Girl glosses over some of the protagonist’s experiences. This makes her struggle and turmoil to discovering the truth about her family and the town she is in seem underdeveloped. She does not have much time to process some of the things she is hit with; causing the trauma at times to seem ephemeral and predictable. Despite its faults, Thorne still delivers a performance that is strong and unlike most of her previous roles, thus showing her versatility and prowess. Rourke’s sheriff is as unpleasant as he is vile, but in the best way. In fact, you immediately dislike him the moment his character is onscreen. Furthermore, Faust’s portrayal of Charmer is delightfully unhinged and terrifying. His switch from seemingly harmless to full-on deranged is only amplified as the story unfolds.
Overall, Girl is a nail-biter, delivering thrills as the film unravels. While some of Thorne’s moments are overshadowed, she managed to shine as the film’s lead making Girl a compelling family drama with shocking moments bursting throughout. A fun watch from start to end, Cryptic Rock gives Girl 3.5 out of 5 stars.