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Indie Thriller The Word's Small Budget Betrays It

A generic title befits director Gregory W. Friedle's lethargic, Connecticut-set and otherwise indistinctive indie thriller, which attempts to offer the white-knuckle gratifications of a studio procedural with a conspicuous lack of production values, screen talent, plausibility, originality, or a lick of aesthetic flair.

After his young son is abducted from a mall and ritualistically sacrificed by a shadowy league of religious zealots, single dad and nonspecifically high-powered exec Tom Hawkins (Kevin O'Donnell) pinballs between behaviors suicidal and homicidal. He mopes and cries alone in a handful of superfluous scenes, including a prolonged funeral sequence in which he mutters to himself or God before plotting revenge.

The FBI team tracking the case — led by a wizened senior agent (Two-time Tony winner James Naughton, the only actor here worth a damn) who can't monitor his undercover loose cannon (Quincy Dunn-Baker) — inexplicably grants Tom intimate access to their investigation. A suspect is stabbed in a courtroom, Tom is given a sanity evaluation by a psychiatrist of dubious qualifications, and the clues ex machina only add up to time-wasting nonsense.

A note to all budget-challenged filmmakers: Telling personal stories is infinitely more compelling to watch than a dollar-store imitation of Hollywood gloss.

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