'The Pinch': Ashley Scott Meyers cobbles together a quirky, modern neo-noir
‘The Pinch’ is either a homage to Quentin Tarantino, especially 'Pulp Fiction', or a throwing together of neo-noir elements that have been successful in the past
The problem with commercial movies is that they follow a set formula and end up feeling uninteresting and predictable. The formula — guaranteed to bring in the crowds — usually involves a protagonist, a love interest and a seemingly insurmountable challenge and/or an incomprehensibly evil villain.
Independent films, on the other hand, break away from these formulaic constraints and end up feeling fresh. The great thing about indie films is that the director is free to pretty much do anything to bring to life their unique vision. However, to say that Ashley Scott Meyers made full use of this freedom in ‘The Pinch’ would be an overstatement.
As it turns out, this indie is also trying to stick to a formula; not the one mentioned above but, none the less, a successful one. As a result, there are novel moments in this neo-noir that completely take you by surprise.
The neo-noir genre has been around since the '50s and, over the decades, there have been many game changers that took the genre in new directions. One such gamechanger was Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction', and the similarities between Tarantino’s masterpiece and Meyers' film are unmistakable and uncanny.
Like Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta in 'Pulp Fiction', 'The Pinch' offers two charming 'runners': Scotty (Terrell Dixon) and Darren (Phillip Musumeci). In a blatant inversion, it is the white guy, Darren, who decides he is done with the business and wishes to quit, forcing his partner Scotty to try and talk him out of it. If that didn’t get you thinking about the 1994 black crime comedy, it gets better.
Meanwhile, the film's protagonist Rob (Gunner Wright) is preparing his own escape as it's become clear to him that his boss wants him dead. So, when the s**t hits the fan, he decides to make a run for it but is held back so he can retreive the grandmother clock that belongs to his girlfriend Gina (Candice Bolek).
When Rob goes to get the clock — a clear allusion to the famous watch in 'Pulp Fiction' — he is visited by Scotty and Darren.
This scene features a character stop to get breakfast in the middle of tense, macabre sequences, and one party’s gun ends up in another party’s hand. If that wasn't 'Pulp Fiction' enough, in this film, too, the mob boss Kain (James Aston Lake) is kidnapped.
However, there are some parts of the movie that are quite fresh, including Dana Coyle’s performance as bad cop Jacqueline. The good cop/bad cop routine did make me chuckle, to be honest.
The dialogue is quite engrossing and the boss-pawn relationship between boss Kain and Rob is quite unique.
Lake’s British accent provides a cheerful tone in an otherwise dark setting and his performance was realistic, but sometimes too casual. It comes off looking part fresh and part novice, but it’s hard to put your finger on it.
There are also some very intense moments including a gory, violent scene of bodily damage with the perpetrator listening to music, quite reminiscent of Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ The ending too is not quite something you see coming and the film will keep you thrilled throughout.
All in all, ‘The Pinch’ is either a homage to Tarantino, especially 'Pulp Fiction', or a throwing together of neo-noir elements that have been successful in the past. It is, however, a decent watch if you want to experience that edgy 'Pulp Fiction' feeling in some light form.
‘The Pinch’ released on August 16, 2018 and is now available on video on demand (VOD).