My advice to you as this holiday season approaches (other than to buy more Varley books here at the website to give to your friends!) is to stroll right by all the big and usually stupid summer blockbusters that are appearing on Netflix and Redbox now, and rent this little gem. I can’t find out what the budget was, but it couldn’t have been much, and it barely appeared in theaters at all. It was pretty much direct-to-DVD. That usually means garbage, but sometimes it doesn’t. The director, Jon Watts, on the strength of this and a previous horror movie called Clown, has been hired to do the next Spiderman movie. Make of that what you will (I hope having $100 million to spend doesn’t ruin him), but it means to me that big money people in Hollywood think he has potential. Sometimes they are right.
It is a very simple but clever story. Travis and Harrison are boys about ten years old, running away from home in the great flat expanses of eastern Colorado (actually New Mexico, but who cares?). They come across an empty cop car with the keys still in it, and eventually dare each other to the point that they drive it away. Our own cop car! How cool is that?! Your typical boy of that age has very little connection to the “real” world, living mostly in fantasies, so they are having a great time. What will they do if a real cop pulls them over? Tell him they are cops, too. That seems like a reasonable course to these kids, and I believe it.
What they don’t know, naturally, is that the car belongs to Kevin Bacon, the sheriff of the county they are in. He was away from the car because he was dragging a handcuffed, dead body to a well some distance away. Clearly he’s a bad cop. Even worse, there is another badly beaten man in the trunk. Kevin has to get that car back, at all costs …
The rest of the story is the cat and mouse game between Kevin, the boys, and the drug dealer in the trunk. It wouldn’t be nice to give away more than that, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. The ending was much darker than I expected, I would have preferred a different one, but it didn’t ruin it for me. It was probably a lot more realistic than the one I would have gone for.