DON'T LOOK BACK movie poster | ©2020 Gravitas Ventures/Kamikaze Dogfightr

DON’T LOOK BACK movie poster | ©2020 Gravitas Ventures/Kamikaze Dogfight

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Kourtney Bell, Skyler Hart, Will Stout, Jaqueline Fleming, Damon Lipari, Amanda Grace Benitez, Han Soto, Stephen Twardokus, Dean J. West, Bryan Batt, Jeremy Holm, Rainn Wilson, Orlando Eric Street
Writer: Jeffrey Reddick
Director: Jeffrey Reddick
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures/Kamikaze Dogfight
Release Date: October 16, 2020

DON’T LOOK BACK shares a pedigree with FINAL DESTINATION. Both films were written by Jeffrey Reddick, who makes his feature directing debut here. Moreover, both are horror films that center around the concept of a group of people who share a traumatic experience, and are later haunted by it.

The film begins with a litany of violent incidents where other people are present, but don’t do anything, except shoot video. This hints at a larger societal problem, as well as the specific theme here.

Caitlin (Kourtney Bell) is having a terrible year. Her loving father (Orlando Eric Street) is murdered in a home invasion. Caitlin is injured as well and “dead” for three minutes.

Nine months later, Caitlin has recovered physically, but is understandably emotionally shaky. When she goes for a jog in the park, she and a group of other people are witnesses as a man (Dean J. West) is attacked and beaten. One of the onlookers records the attack on his cell phone, but no one actually does anything until Caitlin grabs the phone and calls the cops. The man later dies of his injuries.

Caitlin begins hearing and seeing things that the other witnesses won’t acknowledge. The dead man’s brother, Lucas (Will Stout), is furious that no one tried to help. Caitlin’s boyfriend Josh (Skyler Hart) thinks she’s having a nervous breakdown, and the police detective (Jeremy Boyd) on the case wonders why it is that Caitlin is always nearby when other people start dying.

DON’T LOOK BACK doesn’t feel all that different from other entries in its subgenre, but there are some good plot twists and multiple mysteries. Who was the killer in the park? Why did he do it? Will the phenomenon stop if Caitlin helps catch him? Can she get the other witnesses to do something useful?

Reddick also shrewdly introduces Caitlin as a can-do protagonist. We meet her as she hears a strange noise in the house. Rather than cowering or doing something silly, she grabs a fireplace poker to investigate. Bell has a smart, forceful presence that makes us like and believe in her. Stout is persuasive as the aggrieved brother of the victim. Hart is nicely ambiguous as Caitlin’s partner, who waffles between being supportive and skeptical and a bit menacing.

Reddick provides some laudably creepy environments and spooky moments. He also plays with religious and spiritual concepts about karma, and comes to some conclusions that make sense in this context. Because he gives us enough breadcrumbs to follow, DON’T LOOK BACK doesn’t feel preachy. In fact, it feels fairly well thought-out.

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