Invincible Picture pays great homage to the entertainingly melodramatic '90s-era films on Lifetime and other basic-cable channels with "Deserted," which is out on DVD. This tale of millennial hipsters stranded in Death Valley hits the On Demand platform of a Seattle-based retailer that shall remain shameless and other VOD services on February 28, 2017.
The big draw for fans of teen-based Fox dramas everywhere is having Mischa Barton from "The O.C." star as recently released guest of the state of California Jae. She no sooner gets sprung and moves in with loving scruffy brother Robin then she learns of the desire of her sib to travel to the Burning Man style music festival Burn the Moon in Death Valley. The planned entourage includes Rosemary, who is the significant other of Robin but is on less friendly terms with Jae.
The following YouTube clip of the "Deserted" trailer combines a good synopsis of the story with an equally well-done sense of the atmospheric vibe of the film.
Writer/director Ashley Avis provides an initial "Deliverance"/"Nocturnal Animals" scare in the form of our group meeting a small-town local on their car breaking down in the desert. That first contact actually being friendly ends with said good Samaritan towing the car to his town and dropping Jae and her fellow travelers at a dive bar.
The story then progresses to our heroes meeting a trio of 20-something guys who are driving an RV to the festival. This development also has a strong vibe of "they drove off into the desert and were never heard from again," but Avis once again has a surprise in store.
A literal wrong turn results in the group getting stranded in the desert; this mobile home having a larger supply of elicit substances than the similar workspace of Walter White does not help matter.
The existing inter and intra tensions among the combined group of festival goers does not help matters when the combination of greatly impaired judgments and harsh desert conditions begins taking a toll.
The resulting fight for survival takes less than 72 hours but involves plenty of disorientation, extreme temperatures, hostile wildlife, and related madness. Meanwhile, we learn more about the crime that is the cause of both the unfortunate incarceration of Jae and the reason that even Robin does not welcome her back with fully open arms.
Avis does a nice job presenting all of this in a realistic (and largely dystopian) manner. Each actor portrays his or her character well, and the audience can understand how the events transpire.
Viewers further get spectacular desert views in the context of a fable that warns of the dangers of accepting rides from strangers and of wandering around the desert at night even in this age of smart phones and GPS satellites.
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