A Thousand Little Cuts opens with a longish take of Anne (Rebecca Liddiard, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Barely Functional) jogging as a pop song plays in the background. Then, without warning, it switches to a brief clip of what seems to a sexual assault. And then we’re at the hospital where Anne is being asked if she’ll be all right.
As if that isn’t confusing enough instead of an answer we cut to Anne her job where her boss blows off for a meeting with her. She picks up her friend Kiara (Nazanin Nour, All Screwed Up, A Deeper Love) for a wine and bitch session only to walk in on her boyfriend Greg (Brooks Ryan, The Adventures of Jurassic Pet, Robot Riot) with another woman. Only then do we realize she’s talking to a psychiatrist Dr. Atlas (Marina Sirtis, The Bezonians, Star Trek: The Next Generation).
If all of that sounds rather confusing, that’s because it is. Writer/director Josh Brandon sets up a scenario where nothing seems to make any sense, to Anne or the viewer. She’s justifiably confused as to why a psychiatrist is questioning her when she came to get a sprained ankle treated. And why is she the only one who can sign off on her discharge papers? The viewer can’t help but notice what looks like a large bruise on her forehead. Are the two related? Or is there something else going on?
And indeed there is a lot more going on than first meets the eye but it takes a while before A Thousand Little Cuts gives us enough information to start trying to figure out what it is. Instead, we get what almost seems to be a rom-com as Anne tries to get back into the dating scene only to have to deal with an unending string of creeps and losers before meeting Tom (Andrew Creer, Take Me to Tarzana, Lethal Weapon).
Not being a fan of rom-coms this was, to say the least, rough for me to sit through. But once Detective Olson (Colin Ferguson, Breaking and Exiting, Lake Placid 3) enters the picture the tone of the film starts to change and A Thousand Little Cuts starts to get a bit darker. I do wish the first conversation between Detective Olson and Dr. Atlas had been handled differently. While short on details it gave enough away that I could make some connections between what we were seeing in Anne’s life and the film’s title to get a strong feeling I knew what was going on.
And as A Thousand Little Cuts’ narrative begins to twist around it became clear I was right. Conversations we witnessed apparently never took place, and things we saw never happened. Somebody’s sense of reality is seriously flawed and the rest of the film tries to fill in what their mind is trying to avoid remembering, and why. Unfortunately, the conversations between the doctor and the cop keep giving away information that should have been kept quiet until later in the film. It doesn’t ruin A Thousand Little Cuts, but it does take away a lot of potential suspense. But, given how blatantly these things are revealed it was obviously done intentionally, not as a result of bad dialogue.
The result is an interesting thriller that unfortunately keeps coming close to being a drama about abusive relationships, violence and a dedicated doctor trying to get to the bottom of it all. And I knew that the answer was going to involve the jogger (Randy Wayne, Clown Fear, Hellraiser: Judgment) but I didn’t expect it to play out quite the way it does. A Thousand Little Cuts is an earnest little film that kept my attention, even if it did feel a bit too much like a medical drama at times.
Vision Films will release A Thousand Little Cuts to Digital and VOD platforms on May 3rd. It will also screen on the 3rd and 4th at the Laemmle Glendale. You can check Vision Film’s website and Facebook page for more information. And if you’re looking for more of the same, FilmTagger has some picks for you.