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‘Respite’ review: Mystery thriller never able to find footing

Some great ideas.

Respite follows Jimmy Baz (Monte Bezell), a private detective who makes a living catching cheating spouses and people who owe money. When he is hired to find a missing college student, he stumbles across what looks to be the work of a serial killer. This particular killer is targeting young Muslim men. He soon stumbles into an underworld that is nothing like what he could have imagined.

The film initially moves at a very quick pace. It can be a little starting at times. Jimmy is convinced to take on the case quicker than would be expected. There is also an early confrontation with the police that goes strikingly quickly. This keeps Respite’s story moving forward, but it also seems like there are missed opportunities for character and plot development. It also takes away from the tension.

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Once Respite settles into its mystery, things are handled much better. Things move a little more patiently as Jimmy conducts his investigation though this does border on a lacking a sense of urgency at times. The entirety of the movie has these pacing issues. The story is constantly almost stopping before practically lurching forward. It makes it difficult to get into everything that is happening.

This means the performances have to do most of the heavy lifting. Respite has some emotional moments, but there are also some instances where the acting is wooden. Much like the flow, the cast is erratic. Respite takes a shocking turn in the final act. There is no build leading to a series of exposition dumps. Even then, it could make for a powerful moment, but the rapid plot kicks in again.. It all leads to a reveal that does not quite stick the landing.

Writing a compelling mystery can be very difficult. This is especially true when dealing with different themes. Respite has the pieces to tell a compelling story. The mystery will draw audiences in and the actual reveal is unexpected and attention grabbing. The movie’s use of characters not normally in lead roles offers a unique take. Regrettably, it is unable to bring everything together.

Respite will be available to rent and own on North American digital HD internet, cable and satellite platforms through Gravitas Ventures January 26

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