WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
So you think you know someone, eh? Got things figured out, even if it happens to be the very first time you’ve spent with them, over a nicely prepared dinner they’ve made, a glass of wine, and pleasant conversation, with perhaps just a hint of what the rest of the evening might hold. Yep, it is all good! Or so it would seem on the smoothly flowing, playfully-toned, veneered surface of a date between a young woman (Joyce Hall) and a clean-cut man (Ryan Demarest) at his home. Gliding along through banter and casually unsettling verbal foreplay within the immaculately prepared ambiance, the woman slowly begins to feel a tad “off”. Yet to her companion, it is no surprise.
Suddenly awaking to a decidedly jolting change of venue, the woman finds herself in a much darker predicament than would have been anticipated at the date’s beginning. Initially defiant, she struggles against the bonds that embrace her, and angrily yelling at her captor for release. Now having turned from gentlemen into eerily clam, deliberate, and menacing threat, the man only uses her pleas to further explain his motives and give indication as to what is soon to come. Still refusing to “cooperate”, silence becomes key. But when an unexpected visit from a neighbor (Evan Cassidy) occurs, distracting the man from his prey, the woman takes it as a chance to escape this unfortunate incarceration—because this always works out–and “love” is a killer.
Next, my Mind:
As many who’ve followed this reviewer’s film commentary over the years will know, projects theatrical or otherwise that find their genre’s definition within the horror/thriller category usually do not have great appeal. But, admittedly, there have ended up being exceptions to that over time, and “Tender”, directed by the tandem of Joseph R. Davis and Brian Gerson, can safely find itself within this realm. While its general narrative, in itself, is not necessarily new or fresh, the effort therefore must rely on the execution of said tale via the writing for its characters who infuse life into it. And this was adequately done. The pacing of the story is fluid, the cinematography is stable, and even some moments of levity manage to sneak in.
Lead actor Demarest is quite entertaining and sufficiently diabolical in portraying this unassuming man who seems to easily woo women, but underneath has sinister secrets which like to ultimately come out and drastically change the mood for his “dates”. Additionally, lead actress Joyce Hall brings that needed blend of both innocence and toughness to her role as the woman, so caught up in her gentleman’s amiable disposition at first, then attempting to stand firm in the face of certain doom. In such a grim setting, Evan Cassidy’s neighbor actually manages to deliver some comedy to the proceedings. There’s a sequence of harsh language, but give credit to the directors for keeping the violent content more implied than seen, rare in horror films.
Overall, “Tender” is what so many independent efforts are–low on budget, but filled with that sense of passion for filmmaking and a demonstrated commitment to present material that will still be able to capture a viewer’s attention, keep it, and provide entertainment value, which this film did do.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!