From the film’ IMDB.com page citation:
“In an unprecedented snowstorm, a wife’s plans to kill her abusive husband begin to unravel.”
At its core, what you have with a story like Laced is less of a visual cocktail and more of a conventional revenge-style thriller than anything else.
The script as penned and directed by Kyle Butenhoff occasionally flirts with trying to be something a bit more. Subtle hints are placed where watchers probably suspect them most, and it even mildly suggests one player – a secret lover – might’ve been involved with something like this once before. But with its somewhat lackluster finale – seriously, I’m still a bit perplexed with what transpired in the last scene or two – I’m not sure audiences will make more of it than allowing it to be a passing fascination. It’s something best watched and forgotten, ultimately harmless cinematic cotton candy in an era that’s all but left behind anything other than marquee stars, spandex costumes, and complex special effects. The fact that it’s a character piece alone should encourage some to seek it out, though they might as well be disappointed with its abrupt and somewhat unfulfilling ending as I was.
Trapped in an abusive relationship, Molly (played by Dana Mackin) has reached the limits of her patience and wishes to bring the violence perpetrated on her to an end. Conspiring with her lesbian lover Victoria (Hermione Lynch), she concocts a plan to kill her rough husband Charlie (Butenhoff) with a chemically laced shepherd’s pie so that the entangled pair can secretly dispose of his body and personal effects. But an unanticipated winter snowstorm – along with an unplanned visit from her brother Austin (Zach Tinker) – has the two women switching gears at each opportunity to bring about the foul deed. Unless all involved can work together, love won’t conquer all – does it ever? – in this tale of twisting allegiances and spousal shenanigans.
And, alas, that’s all there really is to Laced.
At times a bit formulaic and predictable, the action proceeds in a routine package. It’s pretty clear that nothing is going as planned; and – no matter how hard anyone tries – road bumps keep emerging on this snow-covered yellow brick road to happiness. (Have none of them watched similar stories themselves to know this usually doesn’t end well?) Yes, about the time that things start looking up, Fate intercedes not so much because that’s an organic expansion but more so it’s what the script called for, perhaps killing the momentum some exquisitely photographs offered. It’s all rendered with some impressive cinematography – shot almost exclusively in a handful of rooms in a reasonably spacious cabin-style home – but nothing develops that hasn’t developed before in any number of murderous capers set in motion by extramarital affairs.
If there’s any revelation here, then it might be Tinker. He gives a brilliant and winning turn as wholesome buddy/brother – a kind-hearted slouch who’ll do anything for the family – so much so that observers will no doubt root for his simple attempts to turn the tables on Victoria. It isn’t likely in thrillers of this type, but his performance is grand enough that the lovable goof might somehow defy the cinematic odds, might somehow manage to save sister Molly and her mortal soul from Hell in the process because that’s what good brothers do. Again, methinks even he hadn’t watched enough slow-burning chillers to realize that rarely if ever happens on screen, but kudos for the noble effort, nonetheless.
Laced (2023) was produced by Big Glass Pictures and Monolith Entertainment. According to the press materials provided, the motion picture will be available on VOD/Digital effective January 12, 2024. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I found the sights-and-sounds to this smartly produced flick to be exceptional. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features? As I was provided private streaming access to this one, there were no special features to consider.
You’ll likely be taking a long second look at your dinner entries for the foreseeable future, folks.
It isn’t as if audiences won’t have seen Laced (2023) before. Oh, it was definitely under a completely different name, produced by a completely different studio, and hosted by a completely different cast. But this is the kind of slow-burning psychological thriller has been around for ages and yet still comes about more than once every winter season. Now, that doesn’t mean anyone should pass it up: Laced is well assembled, vigorously acted, and occasionally delivers moments worth watching. I was a bit amiss with the final reel when circumstances understandably take a turn for the worse (as they often always do) but leave one central characters’ motivation a bit blurred. When I wanted to know more, it was over … and that’s disconcerting.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Sky Films provided me with complimentary streaming access to Laced (2023) by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.