November 27, 2018 The Domestics (Movie Review)
In a world where many have perished, one married couple are fighting to survive – no matter the odds. Enter the dystopian world of The Domestics, a brand new Sci-Fi/Thriller which arrived to DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, thanks to Cinedigm and Orion Classics.
In the not-so-distant future, the U.S. government makes the executive decision to hit the ‘reset’ button on society, crop-dusting the country with black poison and killing off millions. The survivors are left to a bleak new world where each individual must choose between civility and savagery, humanity and defying the odds to live another day. Meet Mark (Tyler Hoechlin: Road to Perdition 2002, Teen Wolf series) and Nina (Kate Bosworth: Blue Crush 2002, Superman Returns 2006) West, a couple who, pre-apocalypse, were in the midst of a divorce.
Now, they are desperately trying to get from Two Harbors, MN to Milwaukee, WI, to check on Nina’s parents, who have been out of contact for several weeks. The journey is over 400 miles, and it’s no longer safe to travel on the interstates – or on any road at night. The Midwest has become an apocalyptic Wild West ruled by gangs, from the Naelers to the Plowboys to the Gamblers to the all-girl Cherries, and each group has their own special way of making mayhem amidst the devolving civilization.
When Mark and Nina encounter a kindly, calm-spirited man named Nathan Wood (Lance Reddick: John Wick 2014, Monster Party 2018) in a non-descript market in the middle of Wisconsin, he invites the couple to his home to meet his family – wife Theresa (Jacinte Blankenship: Get on Up 2014, The Gifted series), son Steven (Kaden Washington Lewis: Zoo series, Hap and Leonard series), and adorable little daughter Bella (Mikaela Kimani Armstrong: The First series, Peel 2018). Over dinner and drinks, the Wests will find themselves forced to make some difficult decisions about their future.
Stalked by Betsy (Sonoya Mizuno: Ex Machina 2014, La La Land 2016), a Cherry, and encountering a cast of vile characters along the way, Nina and Mark will quickly learn that, in this brave new world, not everything and everyone is exactly as they seem and ‘good’ is now a relative term. Clocking in at 95 minutes in-length, The Domestics was written and directed by Mike P. Nelson (The Retirement of Joe Corduroy 2012, The Goodbye 2016). It features a massive cast that also includes David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight 2008, Blade Runner 2049 2017) as Willy Cunningham; Jeff Chase (The Mechanic 2011, Star Trek: Into Darkness 2013) as Bill The Big; Thomas Francis Murphy (12 Years a Slave 2013, The Walking Dead series) as Plowboy Jim; and Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained 2012, The Hateful Eight 2015) as Wanda the Gambler.
Billed as a Sci-Fi/Thriller, The Domestics fits this mold with a heavy smattering of action to keep its viewers entertained throughout. Although, admittedly, the film does drag a bit in its second half, it eventually makes up for this with a massively bloody bang as it reaches its grand finale. In short, you can expect some headbanging, a lot of golden oldies tunes, a smattering of cannibalism, guns, explosives, and tons and tons of sadistic revenge.
Despite all this chaos, The Domestics’ success is due, in large part, to its stellar ensemble cast, who each portray their roles flawlessly. Bosworth’s Nina is a heavily-conflicted woman: questioning her marriage, desperate to get home to her parents, and growing ever wearier in this dog-eat-dog world. Bosworth portrays her Nina as initially a somewhat timid woman who oft defers to her husband’s decisions, though by the film’s conclusion, she comes fully into her own and is one fierce lady!
Hoechlin’s Mark is her perfect foil: certain of his marriage, unwavering in his dedication to his wife from the get-go – even if it means making the difficult (and deadly) decision to head to Milwaukee. He is put to the test along the journey, forced to face many of the darker aspects of his personality as a means to survive; proving that he is a man who is willing to literally fight for his wife. By the conclusion of the story, Mark must learn to rely on Nina and allow her to take the reins, providing a twist to their relationship that, ultimately, is just what the doctor ordered.
In one of the film’s most memorable performances, Reddick is, as always, genius. In his role as Nathan Wood, he depicts a warm and friendly, good person who oozes trustworthy vibes from his congenial pores. Any of us would willingly accept his invitation for a nice meal with his family, and, of course, Mark and Nina do. Reddick’s ability to be both perfectly welcoming and subtly sadistic provides a clever twist that drives home many of the film’s underlying points. Ask yourself: when society falls apart and all that’s left are gangs, what will it mean to be a good person and can true goodness still survive?
The Domestics succeeds at its careful blending of apocalyptic trauma with marital drama, raising important questions and leading viewers to make their own conclusions. You might come for the action and the dystopian chaos, but you will certainly stay glued to your seat in hopes of witnessing how all the myriad dramas between gangs will play out and, ultimately, who will be named top dog. Will Nina and Mark and their marriage survive the apocalypse? You’re just going to have to watch The Domestics for yourself! Suggesting some popcorn for your viewing party, Cryptic Rock give The Domestics 4 of 5 stars.