TIFF 2013: ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ is an entertaining thriller buoyed by strong performances

We Gotta Get poster

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Written by Dutch Southern

Directed by Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins

USA, 2013

The crime thriller is not an easy genre to tackle. The cinematic landscape is littered with movies that were unable to illustrate stakes worth caring about, characters worth emotionally investing in, or stories worth following. Good additions to the genre, however, are always fascinating to watch, as they show a side of things that very few people see otherwise, and put people in situations that reveal a lot about them. One of the movies premiering at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival is We Gotta Get Out of This Place, the feature film debut of directors Simon and Zeke Hawkins, and it stands as a worthy addition to the genre, adding its own flavour to stand out from the others while still paying attention to the story.

A major highlight are the performances. A particular standout is Logan Huffman, who manages to infuse his character with a blend of uncertainty, cockiness, anger, and intelligence that never falls out of balance with each other; he is one of the key anchors of the film. Mackenzie Davis likewise manages to bring a level of vulnerability, survival instincts, and book smarts to her character that sets her apart, allowing the actress to effectively hold her own throughout the film. The standout performance, however, is from Mark Pellegrino. No stranger to playing memorable antagonists, Pellegrino brings a level of charm to his role that makes his ruthless activities more terrifying, and manages to maintain an undertone of menace behind every one of his actions, often stealing the show when he’s onscreen, and spouting off numerous instantly memorable lines throughout the film, lines that work due to his delivery as much as the writing.

Get Out of This Place

This is not to say that the writing is bad; instead, the script is deceptively smart, managing to balance the plot with character moments by alternating between the two in an organic manner that becomes more apparent as the film goes on. We Gotta Get Out of This Place also manages to draw character parallels that inform later decisions, and the directors refreshingly keep said parallels understated, trusting the audience to pick up on them without hand-holding, which helps add to the film’s tenser moments.

Overall, this is a highly entertaining movie. The cinematography is particularly effective, capturing the vast, empty spaces of the town and adding to the isolation of the main characters. The movie’s dialogue-free, music-free cold open goes a long way in grabbing the viewer’s attention. The slow reveal of the characters does not hinder the movie in any way, and the relatively small cast allows nearly every character to get their moment to shine. We Gotta Get Out of This Place deftly veers between comedic moments and dramatic ones, and if nothing else, Pellegrino’s performance makes this worth watching; hopefully, people get a chance to see this outside of the festival circuit before long.

– Deepayan Sengupta

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5th to 15th, 2013. For a complete schedule of films, screening times, and ticket information, please visit the official site.

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