The Price We Pay, directed by Ryuhai Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), is very much in the vein as From Dusk Til Dawn. It starts out as a routine Southern-friend neo-noir, with Alex (Emile Hirsch) and his partner in crime Cody (Stephen Dorff) taking a hostage after robbing a pawn shop. You think you've seen this film a thousand times, but it does the From Dusk Til Dawn switcheroo halfway through and becomes a horror movie. They're holed up in an isolated farm, which has secrets that will come out at night…
Dorff is more the Seth Gecko/George Clooney character, with Hirsch is more the Richie Gecko/Quentin Tarantino type. It has two “name” actors and plenty of thrills, and the second half is grisly—and quite impressive, I thought. There's surgical gore, somewhere between Cronenberg and Saw, with some Texas Chainsaw Massacre in there too.
The end product is a solid genre movie. At 85 minutes long, it's a well-paced film that doesn't outstay its welcome. It starts out slow, and the last act becomes something of a blur. You could make a case that the start could have been faster-paced. Dorff is an underrated actor who is always pretty reliable and has done some good work as he's gotten older. He's on a bit of a roll at the moment with this and Old Henry. Even though his season of True Detective may not have been the greatest, he was pretty good in it.
Screenwriter Christopher Jolley has previously penned a bunch of hacky British crime movies. There's nothing particularly bad about the script. Cinematographer Matthias Schubert has worked with Kitamura for a while, and has some other oddball credits, including a Traci Lords music video!
They were working with a budget, so it has the look of a VOD film, but it gives more of the impression of having a director's hand behind it than a lot of those movies. Kitamura has ability, but has been stuck in VOD-land lately with this and The Doorman (which was abysmal). It uses limited locations, which fits the story. This isn't a criticism, but it feels like one of those post-Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction Tarantino-wannabe films—it would play well with something like Love and a .45. It could have easily come out in the mid-90s, in fact, and probably would have found more of a life in cinema then than it will now. But it's a decent little horror-crime film, a genre that there should be more of because horror and crime fit together really well.
The Price We Played played Grimmfest 2022. It will be released on digital via 101 films on October 16, 2023.