Two women, Angie (Alexandra Boylan) and Taylor (Helenna Santos) head out into the desert to win big: their publicity team could win a major client if they successfully complete the geocacheing treasure hunt. But there’s a problem: the rules keep changing and they’re quickly lost and out of water.
In this thriller from director John K.D. Graham and writer Andrew Boylan, regular tropes are flipped in ways I’ve never seen before. As the women navigate the rough terrain physically, they’re also wrestling with hidden truths and current real-world predicaments that they have failed to address. Stripped of their technological masks and safety blankets, Angie and Taylor find themselves stressed psychologically and emotionally to the breaking point. But what we expect from previous films is never what we get here – and that makes for a cinematically gripping experience.
Watching low-budget, independent films, it is easy to make comparisons to bigger named projects. Is this Wild mixed with dashes of Thelma and Louise? Is this a buddy film or a horrific thriller? What can we do when something that is new in tone?
While there are quite a few films about a pair of guys who go on a buddy trip, or enter a game of some mysterious degree, the men invariably end up beating the snot out of each other or worse. In At Your Own Risk, we expect that will happen, as the women unpack their issues and find themselves stuck deeper and deeper in the cacheing game. We expect that it will ultimately get weird, or that their hallucinations will drive them to deviance – paging the Donner party. We think there must be something bigger going on, that will only be determined when more players enter the scene. And yet, once Angie and Taylor enter the desert, Graham’s camera becomes even more focused on these two, as if they’re the only people in the world.
While At Your Own Risk is intimidating and intense, it’s also funny, charming, and refreshing. Without revealing too much, it’s safe to say that the film is a thriller, and a drama, and buddy trip, and … a psychological, spiritual, emotional evaluation of the things we’re addicted to individually and communally.
At Your Own Risk is available now, sans distributor. Check out www.atyourownriskmovie.com for the bundle including behind-the-scenes details about the making of the film.