Anything can go wrong when a team of thieves get cornered into a motel room, especially if they start distrusting each other and the boss they work for. This is the pitch of Odd Men Out, and one that promises a lot. The “people trapped in a room” trope is popular for a reason: it’s a condensed and intense way to learn quickly about characters and motivations while tension rises fast. Unfortunately, the short film by Jon Perry (“The Contingency Plan”) lacks these very elements.
The characters are first introduced to us as animals – that is, while they are wearing animal masks and calling each other animal names. This is a nice (and fun) introduction to the team: masks should conceal, but it is when each character is wearing them that we are able to differentiate between them all; once they take their disguise off, they all seem to blend together with their identical suits and tough faces. Quickly, some names are given and personality traits start to shine through the hardened expressions, but we only get a sliver of what should have been a deep exploration of the characters.
Because the film stays on the surface, it is hard to take a real interest in these men, which makes it hard to care about the stakes at play, which means that we don’t care either for the tension that the filmmaker tries to build. The ending might give you a slight adrenaline rush, but this has little to do with the plot and all to do with the choice of song that accompanies an epic slow-motion shot.
Despite the just-okay script, the film is still well-done. While the actors are not given enough to stand out, they all do a convincing job with no one left in the shadow or stealing the spotlight: new actors like Mike Daniels (“Still Life”, “Fairy Tales: Sunday Night at the Club”) and Daniel Washington (“Detroit”) hold their own against Kris Salvi (“The Deja Vuers”, “Freeland”), Peter Hoey (“The Contingency Plan”, “Serena and the Ratts”) and Adam Masnyk (“Imposter”, “The Contingency Plan”), also writer of the film. Gloria Crist (“What Weighs Us Down”, “Missing William”) also gives her best as the team’s cold and ruthless boss.
The cinematography, directing, soundtrack, all do their job to create a film that has absolutely nothing bad about it; it just lacks that little something more. Here’s to hoping that the next collaboration between Jon Perry and Adam Mysnik (this is their second one as director and writer, but after many others as producers and actors) will have that something.