A Film Review by Nick W. Nicholson, CNN Houston.
Families can go along for years without ever facing the underlying problems in their relationships. You never really know what type of tragedy, event or simple coincidence will be the catalyst that brings the family together or will make everything fall apart around you. With Treachery, you get a sudden and painfully jostling ride through a family crisis that is anything but predictable. Treachery tells a story from a rather unique Hollywood perspective on two fronts; one, this is a unique story that has never been told before. And two, director Travis Romero has obviously either never heard (or chose to ignore) the old cliché ‘never kick a man when he is down.’ That simple mantra is what allows Treachery to reach out and smack you in the face when you least expect it.
The film captures the controversy between Henry (Michael Biehn) and his estranged son, Nathan (Matthew Ziff). Reunited at a friend’s small wedding party, in a remote cabin, Henry and Nathan have their usual awkward interactions. Nathan, accompanied by his girlfriend Cecilia (Sarah Butler), seeks his father’s approval. Cecilia’s presence only adds to Henry’s discomfort, forcing him to want to leave, but a storm hits, trapping them in the cabin and headed for the worst along with the rest of the group. Henry’s girlfriend Vanessa (Caitlin Keats) is seemingly along for the ride as the only sane one of the bunch. None of them really realize what is truly in store as they are faced with finally facing one another while they are all at their most vulnerable.
Definite kudos are in order for both the casting and the direction of the film. Romero does a great job keeping the energy of the film moving forward, never allowing the pacing of the film to slow to the point of showing where it is headed. The chemistry between the characters is outstanding and Michael Biehn is his usual brilliant self but what really sticks is the chemistry between Biehn and newcomer Matthew Ziff. You get the feeling at times the two are really related and that maybe, well….maybe they simply despise one another. As the tension in the film continues to crescendo, you really see Ziff take on a different persona – something akin to Clark Kent giving way to Superman. As the two central male characters continue to box their way through the film, it was very refreshing to see the newbie in Ziff match the thespian punches of the seasoned veteran in Biehn with such gusto and panache. It is no wonder that Ziff has been named one of Hollywood’s most impressive young up and comers in the industry. When you see this film, you will come away with a better understanding of his dynamic as an actor. And it isn’t just the performances of the male characters that create some buzz. Caitlin Keats provides the no-nonsense stability necessary to keep the film grounded so as not to become cliché. And Sarah Butler goes toe to toe with both Biehn and Ziff showing that she doesn’t have just a pretty face and brilliant brain in her head – she is a damn fine actress, too!
Treachery begins with an emotional standoff and develops in the same manner a bad Thanksgiving dinner could go. Every issue that arises, there isn’t resolution – as that would be too easy. This film just amps up and shifts into a higher gear. Once you think you have it figured out, it takes another twist to another plateau. Not until the back half of the third act does the conflict get examined and dealt with in a rather pointedly abrupt manner.
Director Romero places everything in this film into a rather small crock-pot and sets things in motion at a high setting. There are no cheap shots against the typical dysfunctional family unit. The problems of the people in this movie aren’t caused by anything other than themselves. It’s not often we get characters who face these kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Each character is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside themselves in an effort to try and grow from the situation and to simply improve their own characterizations. Some do and others don’t. But I suppose that is simply how life really works, isn’t it?
Starring: Michael Biehn, Matthew Ziff, Caitlin Keats & Sarah Butler
Director: Travis Romero
Company: Blanc-Biehn Productions
Now Showing: Home Entertainment Outlets
MPAA Rating: R