The housing crash of 2009 destroyed many homeowners with a wave of foreclosures and bank repossessions. The desperation of the time makes the perfect setting for “Arizona,” the darkly funny film from director Jonathan Watson. When real estate agent Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) witnesses a (sort of) accidental murder, crazed client Sonny (Danny McBride) kidnaps her until he can be assured that she won’t tell a soul. Things gradually become more horrific when it becomes clear that the man is a true psychopath and the bodies start piling up. Once Sonny gets his hands on her teenage daughter (Lolli Sorenson), Cassie must use her wits to outrun him in an elaborate game of cat and mouse.
The housing crisis works as the instigator that brings out the murderous worst in Sonny. He’s a sympathetic character at first, one of the thousands hoodwinked by deceptive sellers and corrupt banks (he’s almost like a physical manifestation of the unscrupulous lenders who ruined so many lives). Things really pick up once McBride is allowed to go off the rails and become full-on bonkers. His hulking boorishness suits the role perfectly and he becomes a believable and terrifying villain as he slowly gives in to his dark side. DeWitt is great here too, serving swift justice as a tough woman who’s simply had enough of being the hunted.
The plot feels a little too formulaic at times but the brevity of the run time works in the film’s favor as there’s plenty of story to outlast its short 85 minutes. It’s an outrageous bloodbath that also makes logical sense story-wise and within the time period setting. The twisted dark humor is reminiscent of “Serial Mom,” when a decent suburban guy (who calls himself “a really good person”) becomes a gleeful murderer. It’s perverse fun as bodies begin dropping like flies and Sonny goes on an epic spree of nonstop violence that targets anyone who crosses his path.
“Arizona” may be lacking in originality but it is thrilling, funny, silly and bloody, and I enjoyed every minute of it.