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Film Review: Reptile (2023)

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★

Available on Netflix | Runtime: 2 hrs 14 mins

 

Directed by Grant Singer in his debut feature, Reptile is a crime thriller that, while not flawless, offers an engaging and gritty whodunit experience. Drawing inspiration from established genre classics like Prisoners and It Follows, the film does a good job in putting together an interesting murder investigation which is gripping enough to keep you mildly engaged for 2 hours.


The narrative revolves around small-town detective Tom Nichols, portrayed by the always-excellent Benicio Del Toro, who is tasked with unraveling the murder of the wife of affluent real estate agent Will Grady, played by Justin Timberlake. However, as the investigation unfolds, it becomes evident that this murder holds more sinister secrets than initially meets the eye.


What sets Reptile apart is its rich characters development. The denizens of the small town, including Tom's colleagues and social acquaintances, project an unsettling air of nonchalance in the face of a heinous crime that has shaken their community. This realism and the characters' ‘skeletons-in-the-closet’ add depth and intrigue to the film.

Regrettably, this character-driven strength is somewhat overshadowed by a lacklustre script. The storyline, though competently executed and benefited by cinematographer Mike Gioulakis (Us,It Follows) lacks the gripping twists and turns that could have truly engaged the talented cast. The characters possess tantalising secrets that remain largely unexplored, leaving untapped potential for more complex and compelling narratives.


Reptile exudes a visual and atmospheric ambiance reminiscent of True Detective. The film's aesthetics, with their framing, colours, and score, evoke the feeling of a different series. It's as if the filmmakers repurposed the set of True Detective between seasons, immersing us in a world of small-time crimes that precede a truly gruesome murder due to arrive in the next season of a different series, along with the conflicted detective to solve the case.


Overall, Reptile is a visually enticing film with strong performances, particularly from Benicio Del Toro, and a genuine portrayal of complex characters. However, it falls short in terms of script innovation and narrative depth, leaving the viewer craving more from the intriguing characters and their unexplored secrets.






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