“Everly” Movie Review

     “Everly”, a new indie action thriller from director Joe Lynch, is the kind of film one would expect from filmmakers whose roots are in the land of tight budgets and limited resources.  The film, in fact, takes place entirely within the confines of a loft style apartment, which forces the story and each act to take on a sort of video game like feel where the lead character takes on the bad guys one at time as if moving from level to level.  Film buffs will be pleased to see the film stars Salma Hayek and may even assume an arguably high end actress wouldn’t headline such a project if she didn’t believe there was good reason to.  The script, written by first time screenwriter Yale Hannon, doesn’t necessarily break any new ground for this type of picture, nor does it feature anything really notable, but there are bits that indicate there is some creative ability there.   “Everly” seems to ultimately be an exercise in which several collaborators were able to participate in a project that allowed them to be the most ambitious they have ever been to that point; whereas, their previous projects were likely made on virtually no budget at all.  The resulting product isn’t for everyone, but there is some merit there, even if it may only show future potential.

     Everly (Salma Hayek) is a mob owned prostitute who seems to have pissed off her ex, who also happens to be the big boss.  The film’s opening scene sets off the proceedings into high gear when Everly emerges from the bathroom guns ablaze, killing several oversexed Asian mob types who were enjoying a night of debauchery.  Undoubtedly, the first film that will come to mind during this scene is Tarantino’s revenge fest “Kill Bill”, but don’t raise your expectations that high, as what “Everly” slowly devolves into doesn’t merit comparison to such a classic.  Within minutes, Everly is systematically attacked by other prostitutes in the building who received a text offering $50,000 for killing her.  One by one they bust into the apartment as each is dispatched by Everly mostly with luck on her side since her skill in defending herself doesn’t exactly reek of proficiency. 

     When the initial wave slows down, Everly realizes the boss may go after her mother and child who reside elsewhere.  When she navigates them out of their residence over the phone, she strangely has them come to her place, which is crawling with bad guys awaiting the order to storm Everly’s apartment.  In one of the most oddball sequences I have watched in some time, the boss sends a character named the Sadist (Togo Igawa) to the apartment with a strangely costumed entourage to take their stab at killing Everly.  When first sending a drugged up gimp to attack Everly fails, the Sadist is able to restrain her in a vertical metal bar cage that stands her up and goes neck high and doesn’t allow for bodily movement.  His methods of torture include pouring harmful chemicals down the throat of his victims and then watching in enjoyment as they brutally die from the inside out.  If there is a positive to the film, it would be this sequence since if for nothing else, it allows the second act to abandon the array of hit men arriving at Everly’s doorstep every couple minutes with the audience knowing the lead character isn’t in danger of dying anytime soon.

     Hannon’s dialogue doesn’t really allow for any memorable conversations, but does give Lynch plenty to work with on a visual level.  His shot making from the opening seen in the bathroom with the camera swerving in from the ceiling, and later a shot of a military clad dead soldier hanging by a repelling rope as the camera follows the rope several levels up the outside of the building and into Everly’s apartment through a window are great examples of effective and creative camera movements that increase the production values of the film.  What Lynch has does here is cross some of the elements of an action vehicle like “The Raid” and then simply adds in the terror of a horror film not unlike his own straight to video sequel “Wrong Turn 2: Dead End”.  Though this concoction works in some scenes, in order to pull off a feature length film within the confines of a single set, a script that features snappy conversational pieces is sorely needed and unfortunately “Everly lacks this entirely.  GRADE: D