This movie was screened at Panic Fest.

“Laced” is an unremarkable thriller that’s slightly better than average due to writer-director Kyle Butenhoff‘s visual style. His skilled direction makes for a good looking project at least, but his garden-variety script is simple and familiar, which makes the film feel like a forgettable made-for-television movie that we’ve all seen before.

A record-breaking blizzard is on the way, and Molly (Dana Mackin) and her husband Charlie (Butenhoff) are sitting by a roaring fire and waiting out the storm in their home. Taking a cue from her body language, you can sense that Molly is uneasy around Charlie, especially when he snaps at her over insignificant things. The way Molly she instinctively pulls away from him means Charlie’s temper has probably gotten out of hand before, and we soon learn that she has a plan to kill her abusive husband with the help of her secret girlfriend, Victoria (Hermione Lynch).

Molly and Victoria are two smart women who seem to have thought of everything on their quest to be together and find happiness, and their murderous blueprint seems to be going precisely as planned. That is, until Molly’s brother and Charlie’s best friend Austin (Zach Tinker) shows up. The women now have a serious problem to deal with, and it’s not going to be easy to explain whey there’s already a dead body down the hall.

The plot reminded me of the song “Goodbye Earl” by the Chicks, but with a couple of little twists thrown in for good measure. Not everything about this pedestrian thriller is predictable, but nothing is all that surprising. Butenhoff doesn’t tell the audience the biggest reason why Molly wants Charlie dead but when he does reveal her justification, it’s a good (and understandable) one.

The film takes place over one night within the confines of one location, which is well-suited to the simplicity of the story. It’s a talky film with a lot of unnecessary and uninteresting dialogue, which makes the pacing feel terribly slow. There are a few scenes that add some shock value, but Butenhoff takes far too long to build up to the unsatisfying finale.

The film’s themes are used as a plot device rather than in a meaningful way, which is a shame because more could’ve been done with the ideas about retribution for abuse and the cycle of violence that is often fostered by toxic relationships. Instead, “Laced” is simply forgettable.

By: Louisa Moore

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