WARNING SHOT (2018): Review by Giorgi Plys-Garzotto

In Warning Shot, writer Breanne Mattson delivers a script even more poorly done than the shoddy craftsmanship on the production. A plot to steal water rights from a young single mother and her child becomes a hostage situation that devolves into a bizarre series of revelations before an action-packed ending leads to a fake-ironic conclusion. (GPG: 0/5)

Review by FF2 Contributor Giorgi Plys-Garzotto

Warning Shot tells the story of one single mother’s harrowing journey to retain the water rights for her grandfather’s property. The water rights could give Audrey (Tammy Blanchard) and her daughter, Cheyenne (Onata Aprile), a better life than the one they currently have from Audrey’s waitressing job. However, a nefarious businessman has other plans, hiring two hitmen for a rather implausible plan to steal the water rights—he plans to have the two hitmen hold Audrey’s grandfather at gunpoint, forcing him to sign over the rights. This alone makes little sense, but then the hitmen happen upon Audrey and Cheyenne coming to visit her grandfather, and take them hostage instead.

The standout character in this film is Guillermo Diaz’s Rainy, a sociopathic gun for hire who is partnered with a slightly less sane gun for hire to get the old man to give up the water rights at gunpoint. (Readers may remember Diaz as the neurotic, traumatized superspy Huck on the Shonda Rhimes show Scandal.) Diaz is supposed to be kind of like Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now, complete with the chiaroscuro lighting that every film featuring a loose-cannon sociopath has to have. He keeps dropping lines like “say, this is kind of like when my dad tried to drown me,” and there is a scene before the kidnapping where he licks bird poop off a woman’s car as a way of flirting with her. After this endearing romantic gesture, he mugs her and drives away.

The only reason this character is not the worst character in the film is because he is the only character with any personality at all. Cheyenne’s whole character is basically just her asking with wide eyes, “are they going to kill us, Mommy?” Audrey doesn’t seem to have any details about her character that aren’t exposition for the plotline about the water or just the standard mother’s love for her child; both these traits basically just involve her either delivering wooden lines or desperately screaming. The other hired gun is a stereotype of an easy-going black criminal; the script is trying to be in the vein of Tarantino—however, Tarantino never wrote a scene involving the consumption of bird feces.

Another, almost bewildering, aspect of Warning Shot was the almost offensively bad production elements. The sound mixing was noticeably terrible; I may be a film school grad and therefore more attentive to problems like this, but other audience members most have noticed the scene where Audrey and Cheyenne are having breakfast and their plates clink at a volume louder than their voices. Or what about the scene where there appears to have been no usable sound from the set, and the actors appear to have had to record all their dialogue in a (poorly mic’d) sound studio after the fact?! In 2018 I did not expect to see such an homage to 1960s Italian cinema.

All in all, Warning Shot was a fascinatingly, weirdly horrible movie. It’s great to watch with a friend to make fun of it together, especially if the friend is also a fan of Diaz’s character from Scandal/ watched six seasons of Scandal with you over a period of extreme Trump-related avoidance of reality during the spring of 2017. Otherwise, I would give it a pass.

© Giorgi Plys-Garzotto FF2 Media (1/16/19)

Q: Does Warning Shot pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?

Yes, because Audrey and Cheyenne talk about their future if they were to get the water rights from Audrey’s grandfather, among other mother-daughter things.

Top Photo: Rainy.

Middle Photo: Audrey.

Bottom Photo: Audrey and Cheyenne.

Photo Credit: Seafoam Pictures.

Tags: FF2 Media

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Giorgi Plys-Garzotto is a journalist and copywriter living in Brooklyn. She especially loves writing about queer issues, period pieces, and the technical aspects of films. Some of her favorite FF2 pieces she's written are her review of The Game Changers, her feature on Black Christmas, and her interview with the founders of the Athena Film Festival! You can also find more of her work on her website!
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