'Buried in Barstow' Review: Angie Harmon shoulders a bland mother-daughter thriller
Conceptually, 'Buried in Barstow' comes off as an engaging film, but when it comes to execution, it falls rather flat
Lifetime's 'Buried in Barstow' starts on a rather grim note. We get to see Angie Harmon leave the scene of a murder and through a voice-over, it's revealed that the opening scene is set 20 years in the past and that Hazel King (Angie Harmon) has been living life so far in the hopes that it was all behind her. Unfortunately, her past does catch up with her, or in her words "shows up at your diner door."
We're quickly brought back to the present, where Hazel runs a diner with her daughter Joy (Lauren Richards) who seems to be more interested in branching out and moving in with her boyfriend Travis (Timothy Granaderos of '13 Reasons Why' fame). Hazel's concerns about Travis hurting Joy come true as the latter returns to the diner one day with bruises. This infuriates Hazel, making her step out armed and in pursuit of Travis. She finds him and dumps a bleeding Travis in an unmarked grave, leaving it up to the viewers to speculate whether or not he's alive. The single mother also happens to be an extremely understanding woman who houses and employs a broke man (Kristoffer Polaha), whose origins are shady.
Over time, Hazel's backstory is unraveled and we find out that she was an accomplished hitwoman who quit after becoming a mother. Unfortunately, she's pulled back into it or rather dives back in to keep her daughter from harm's way. The events that unfold after that form the rest of the story.
Conceptually, 'Buried in Barstow' comes off as an engaging film about a mother who will go to any lengths to protect her daughter but when it comes to execution, it falls rather flat. There's only so much Angie Harmon and director Howard Deutch can do as they're limited by the script written by Thompson and Tom Evans.
A lot of things, especially Hazel's past, are broken down orally but they would've been more effective had it been done visually. There's very little action for a film about a former hitwoman and even the few action blocks don't seem to support the claim that Hazel was one of the best in the business.
The other actors don't really bring much to the table and the film isn't really noteworthy on the technical end either. Another thing that sticks out is that the film is broken down into acts for no apparent reason. On a positive note, however, the climax is intriguing and leaves us with enough for a sequel.
'Buried in Barstow' is currently available for streaming on Lifetime.