Pimped is a slickly produced work which hinges on the chemistry of its two leads, but unfortunately lacks enough forward momentum to really elevate it beyond the level of a decent thriller.
When Sarah (Ella Scott Lynch) and Lewis (Benedict Samuel) meet in a bar, Lewis and his roommate Kenneth have sinister intentions. However, they are unaware that Sarah could be far more dangerous than they could ever imagine.
It is difficult to discuss too much about the plot without offering some pretty substantial spoilers, so I will avoid that too much within this review so as not to impact the full effect for new viewers.
Despite the runtime zipping along, the film is surprisingly low on actual content, yet the atmosphere and the aforementioned chemistry sustains it well enough. Ella Scott Lynch and Benedict Samuel play off each other very well. Scott Lynch pulls double duty in her portrayal of Sarah and Rachael. Even though the characters appear relatively different, their actual traits are quite similar, meaning that it isn’t the kind of performance where she’s playing wildly different people and to be honest, it is all the better and more nuanced for it. Samuel, for me, has similarities (both visual and performance-wise) to Skeet Ulrich’s Scream performance as Billy in his delivery of a carefully controlled performance. The device of Rachael is never quite fleshed out and her presence does little to drive anything forward.
The tension is at a high point in the earlier stages of the film, which is quite unusual and it seems to settle into a comfortable groove perhaps a little too soon. Despite this, the overall quality of production means that it is engaging enough. There is a moment early on which is both excellently crafted and profoundly disturbing, so it is something of a shame to see that obvious ability not permeate the rest of the film.
The music is a strong point, with party and moody bar scenes punctuated with good soundtrack choices. In the same terms, silence is well-used – allowing the moments of violence to be fairly graphic while also maintaining a level of detachment. The glossy production values add to the feeling of detachment, whether in scenes of intimacy or violence, making both seem a bit too clean and perfect, which works very well within the context of the film.
Thin on action, but high on mood, Pimped offers an excellent portrayal of an uneasy alliance which is ably handled by the main performers. The pacing is well-defined but it ultimately feels like a film which never quite reaches its top gears and by the end I was still waiting for a further escalation. Nevertheless, the film’s tightly-wound mood and lack of any wasted motion in performance and construction suggests that David Barker is a director in full control with a great deal of artistic potential and I look forward to further work from him.
Pimped will play at Frightfest on August 24th and will receive a home-entertainment release through Frightfest Presents in early 2019.