by George Wolf
The big doin’s in Granville, Ohio a few months back come to the big screen this weekend with the Central Ohio premiere of First Kill, a thriller about …big doin’s in Granville.
Sheriff Howell (Bruce Willis) calls a recent bank heist, “the biggest crime to hit Granville in decades,” and he warns old acquaintance Will Beamon (Hayden Christensen) to keep alert while he’s in town as there’s some dangerous fugitives on the run.
Will’s a hometown boy who made good in New York as a slick Wall St. broker with a hot big city wife (Megan Leonard). But, with their young son Danny (Ty Shelton) having bully problems in school, Will figures the best medicine is a family deer hunting trip back to his old stomping grounds.
Things go awry when father and son see something they shouldn’t, and suddenly Will must recover the stolen bank loot before Chief Howell does and use it as ransom for Danny’s safe return.
Principal shooting on the film was done in Granville last year, with a few additional scenes completed in downtown Columbus. After Travolta’s I Am Wrath and Schwarzeneggar’s Aftermath, First Kill marks the third big screen icon to film in Central Ohio in just the last few years.
Chris Hamel, Board President of the Greater Columbus Film Commission, says that’s more than a coincidence.
“There is a lot of interest in making movies here and I think more and more productions will be choosing Ohio in the coming years. We are pleased that First Kill could be shot in central Ohio and excited to host the Columbus premiere at the Gateway Film Center.”
Director Steven C. Miller, who’s been prolific with these B-movie thrillers, gives a nice shine to the cliche-heavy script from writer Nick Gordon (Girl House). The “hunter will become the prey” foreshadowing is a bit thick in the early going, the setup leans on contrivance, and few if any of the plot turns will surprise, but once First Kill gets rolling into Miller’s well-paced groove, it’s not a bad ride.
Though Christensen is still struggling to carry a film, Willis supplies his natural gravitas and Ohioan Shelton makes an impressive big screen debut. As young Danny, Shelton’s easy rapport with Gethin Anthony (as kidnapper Levi) is a constant highlight.
First Kill can’t hit the Hell or High Water heights it aspires to, but hey, few can. Can it dust off some well-worn genre tropes and entertain? Ten-four.
First Kill makes its Central Ohio premiere July 21st, 7:30 at Gateway Film Center.