Volition Review: A Highly commendable Indie Time-Bending Thriller | Shriekfest 2019

Going to the Shriekfest Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles this year for the first time, I had a few preconceived notions about it. My biggest was that its lineup would be solely comprised of scary movies. The festival, however, offered a lot more, including thriller and science fiction films. I’m especially glad for the latter, as it led to me viewing Volition. Winner of the Best Sci-Fi Feature Film award at the fest, it is a very well made indie thriller dealing with clairvoyance and non-linear storytelling.

In the film, James is blessed with the gift of clairvoyance. A down on his luck guy who has had associations with criminal elements in the past, he sometimes drifts off in his mind, leading to visions of things to come. He uses this to make a few bucks on boxing matches and the like, just to get by. He is brought back into the criminal fold though, by an old associate named Ray. Ray has millions in diamonds he’s trying to fence and needs James to foresee safe passage for them. The former offers the latter $100,000 in exchange for his services. James signs up for the deal but is soon double-crossed and finds himself on the run. Accompanying him is a drifter girl named Angela, whom he has just met. They’re falling fast for each other, which complicates things. They stop off at the house of James’ former foster dad, and that’s where the time-bending element comes in, making things even weirder, though I won’t go into it too much.

The story shines in Volition, its screenplay the product of the filmmaking team of brothers Tony Dean Smith and Ryan W. Smith. The former also serves as director, and the two craft an ingenious little sci-fi thriller that surprises the viewer at every opportunity. Just when you think you know where it’s going, it takes a hard left turn, and leaves you startled.

The movie is cast flawlessly, showcasing actors I was heretofore unfamiliar with. Adrian Glynn McMorran is James, and we follow him on his journey and become greatly invested in his plight. Magda Aponowicz, a vet of episodic television, shines as the apple of James’ eye, a girl familiar with struggle and one whose quick loyalty is understood and appreciated. John Cassini, who plays the baddie Ray, also impresses as he toggles between striking fear in the hearts of those who he believes have crossed him while also having a sort of fatherly bond with James.

Volition is the type of film that film festivals exist for. It could easily fall through the cracks when put up against the big Hollywood flicks, but in a film fest setting it can be properly evaluated and praised. And praised it should be, as it is one of the better, more original movies I’ve seen this year.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Looper, Primer, Timecrimes


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Daniel Tafoya

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