Adapted from a 2014 short called Good Samaritan that he wrote and directed, Jeffery Reddick (best known for creating the Final Destination film franchise) brings us, Don’t Look Back. A full-length version of his earlier short that stars Kourtney Bell, Will Stout and Skyler Hart.
Don’t Look Back is released theatrically and On-Demand on October 16th 2020.
The film opens in a sobering way, showing news report footage about instances of people being attacked and/or hurt in public and no-one did a thing. In many cases, such as during violent fights, bystanders pulled out their phone and filmed. It’s sobering because it’s a sad reality of the modern world. Few will intervene and it is all to common for the footage to end up on social media.
It’s this lack of intervention or aid that is the main crux of Don’t Look Back’s story as we’re introduced to Caitlan (Bell). It’s her birthday and her father has come over to surprise her. Unfortunately there is a bigger surprise right around the corner as a pair of masked thugs break in and try to rob the pair. Caitlan is badly hurt and when her father goes to help her, he is shot dead.
9 months later and Caitlan is still (understandably) struggling with what took place. Even with the support of her boyfriend, Josh (Hart), it’s not easy for her to move on.
While out jogging, she and a few other park-goers witness a man being attacked and beaten to a pulp. She freezes, as much as she clearly wants to help, she can’t and no-one else does either. Later, this man who is called Douglas (Dean J. West) dies in hospital. She is guilt-stricken and along with some of the other witnesses who did nothing, attend a candle vigil for him in the park.
It’s there that she meets Douglas’ brother, Lucas (Stout) and pretends that she knew him from work. A lie that will later catch up with her when Lucas discovers who she is and publicly names her and the others as the people who let his brother die. Each of them is now public-enemy number one but that will turn out to be the least of their problems.
Someone, or something, wants revenge. Karma is a bitch and it’s coming for Caitlan and the others.
A clever and interesting watch, Don’t Look Back nails several important elements to ensure it holds the attention up until the very end. Firstly, the story plays out well. Even when it hits familiar beats regarding potential supernatural elements, it always leaves room to manoeuvre it elsewhere. This is important as it keeps things mysterious up until its final reveal and even a little bit after.
A very strong performance from Kourtney Bell helps too. You can feel her character’s loss, grief, and guilt yet she remains strong in the face of so much. A particular scene at the end might surprise many by just how emotionally impactful it is. Elsewhere, Will Stout is a relatable grieving brother who lives up to his own mistakes and Skylar Hart does well as the supportive and worried boyfriend.
Unfortunately, these are the only actors who really get to do much as the rest of the characters are just kind of there. Some to die and some to be part of the end game. There’s very little development for them aside from a last-minute harrowing reveal by Althea (Jaqueline Fleming) which comes far to let to really add much impact.
The lack of strong scares is also disappointing even if it does occasionally ramp up the tension to a nice notch. However, it does pepper in a few jump scares and one or two hit the mark.
Overall, Don’t Look Back is a good movie that delivers strong performances, a well-thought out story and an effective resolution. Enjoyable throughout with only a few niggling issues to detract from the overall quality of it.
Don't Look Back
The Final Score - 7/10