Tag Archives: Brea Grant

Honky Tonk Angels

Torn Hearts

by Hope Madden

Heartbreak, hardship, hard living and broken dreams — that sounds like a country song.

How well does it work for a horror movie? Director Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift) finds out, with an assist from effortless badass Katey Sagal in the Music City thriller Torn Hearts.

Sagal plays Harper Dutchess, country music legend and what remains of the Dutchess sisters, a duo that made it big in the 90s, before tragedy hit. Now a recluse in her Nashville mansion, Harper is none too happy to see upstarts Jordan (Abby Quinn) and Leigh (Alexxis Lemire) show up at her door hoping to record a song with her that will put them on the path to stardom.

Screenwriter Rachel Koller Croft stumbled into something fresh with the country music angle. Horror is no stranger to rock music, disco, techno, metal, punk, but country? That’s new.

Unfortunately, she repackages a lot of familiar ideas inside that Western fringe. But Grant finds ways to keep things interesting.

An authentic soundtrack of music penned by Brittany Allen grounds Torn Hearts in authenticity, while Yaron Levy’s cinematography works the creepy Dutchess mansion for all its gothic, garish Nashville weirdness.

Both Lemire and Quinn fit their roles well. As Harper picks away at the young duo’s insecurities, each performer gets the chance to show some range, both physically and emotionally.

Sagal steals the show, though. The picture of hard living, Harper manipulates the young musicians with sometimes sadistic ease. Sagal relishes the contempt, crafting a formidable central figure and ensuring rapt attention, no matter what weaknesses the film has in store.

Torn Hearts layers its somewhat rote plot points with context about the harsh misogyny of country music, points Sagal’s performance drives home.

The Horrors of Garage Entrepreneurship


by Christie Robb

Madeline (Brea Grant, Eastsiders) and her husband Owen (Parry Shen, General Hospital) are two independent scientists working on a time travel device in their garage laboratory. Everything seems to be going well. They successfully moved an orange across time and space. They secured investment capital from their backer Rory (Richard Riehle, Office Space/legendary “that guy”). And they are all set to try experimenting on human subjects.

But one night, Madeline starts coding after she’s had a few too many wines and sends herself into the future only to return and find out that, due to a typo in the code, she and Rory can expect a new Madeline to return from the future every day at the same time for 3,600 days. What to do?

It’s a real conundrum.

Directed by Jason Richard Miller (who produced Frozen—no, not the Disney one) and co-written by Brea Grant, the film manages to entertain despite its minuscule cast of three and limited setting. A lot of the credit goes to Grant, who gives individual quirks to the various Madelines that she embodies.

Matt Akers’s 80s-inspired synth score is also a real delight, providing the entire project with a late-night direct-to-syndication guilty pleasure vibe.

It’s not a movie that can stand up to much logical scrutiny, though. And both the horrific and comedic elements could have been dialed up somewhat. But as an experiment, I think the team is on to something.

Luck Be a Lady


by George Wolf

Lucky takes a well-known horror trope – the masked killer whose “dead” body vanishes when you turn your back – and puts it in a freshly relevant light.

A gaslight, if you will.

May (Brea Grant, who also wrote the screenplay) is a self-help author living in the California suburbs with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh). They are working to get past a rough patch in their marriage when a strange, persistent threat presents himself.

Every night, a masked man (Hunter C. Smith) tries to break in and kill May. She fights him off – sometimes spilling plenty of blood in the process – but he always seems to get away. The police are on the case, but they’re more interested in why Ted doesn’t appear to be around anymore.

And they’d really like her to calm down.

Grant’s script is often smart and timely, and director Natasha Kermani peels enough layers successfully to hit a number of societal bullseyes. But an extended metaphor such as this is tough to keep constantly afloat, and some gaps of logic in the narrative work against the film’s subtlety and in turn, its overall power.

Grant and Kermani end up walking an entertaining line between subversive humor and metaphorical slasher. Lucky works best in that center, when May becomes a living example of that internet meme comparing what men and women do each day to avoid becoming a victim.

This is the final girl in a modern world of gaslighting and victim-shaming, where women form common bonds overs fears too often dismissed.

Just calm down, Honey, you’re lucky to be alive!

Workin’ for a Livin’

12 Hour Shift

by Hope Madden

“My mama always said, never trust a skinny woman. While we are eating, they are plotting.”

Amen, sister.

The skinny woman in question is Mandy (Angela Bettis, glorious as always). And she’s skinny for a reason.

It’s the tail end of 1999 somewhere in Texas and Mandy’s just starting a 12 Hour Shift. She’s a nurse (on probation) in a hospital that’s not well staffed, not well run, and losing more patients and organs than it has a right to.

Writer/director Brea Grant strikes an intriguing tone. Her film’s humor is simultaneously deadpan, macabre and very silly. It’s an unusual spot to hit because you don’t root against any of the bad guys, even though they’re doing horrible and often needless things to perfectly likable people. Mainly out of stupidity.

Bettis is dead-eyed perfection, her unflappable nature a front for reluctant tenderness. She’s orbited by a wild assortment of hicks, Karens, low-rent crime lords, criminals, hypochondriacs, bumbling cops, and drugs. So, so many drugs.

Boldly colorful and strikingly stupid, Chloe Farnworth’s Regina is a wonderful counterpoint to Mandy. Together the two generate laughs with the kind of frustrating bond you only have with kin.

Nikea Gamby-Turner’s comfortable presence creates a great energy, while producer David Arquette essentially plays David Arquette (but he does it so well!).

Grant’s film is ghoulish and tense, with a genuinely unexpected musical number. It’s a hard film to nail down, and though it plays out like a long and especially bloody sitcom, the utter lunacy of the plot feels grounded in an authentic exhaustion and insanity known only to those who work in hospitals.