The latest Tubi Original, Tow, (I thought the onscreen title said The Ninth House but I’ve been told that’s the production company and I’m not watching it again to double-check), opens with a load of shaken camera and image distortion effects as the film cuts back and forth between a woman being stalked down a dark street, a killer slicing up a body and someone drawing a bloody pentagram on a wall. The woman gets in a car and has flashbacks to something in her childhood before waking up in her kitchen
This is Maddie (Caitlin Gerard, The Wind, Insidious: The Last Key), she and her twin sister Abbie were the only two people to survive an encounter with a serial killer known as The Mechanic (Kane Hodder, The Good Things Devils Do, Dead by Midnight (Y2Kill)). And in an incredible coincidence, the radio is announcing that he’ll be executed later today.
After watching Maddie try repeatedly to call her sister and her sister sit and ignore the phone we go back to the woman in the car and watch her car be towed off with her in it. You can guess by who. The woman is Maddie’s mother, she and her sister are in the back seat. And then she wakes up again.
Director Vanessa Alexander and co-writers Caitlin Gerard and Jesse Mittelstadt (Altitude, No Escape Room) wasted no time in confusing me and giving me a major headache. The film seemingly randomly cuts between timelines and in and out of dreams. All of this is accompanied by the image shaking as though the camera was hit and looking like an old 3D movie viewed without the glasses.
Tow keeps on like this too. Maddie tells her therapist she’s been having nightmares and the film starts cutting into them. Abbie breaks into his garage, which looks really well maintained despite having sat vacant for twenty years, and has a vision of him in his cell. Footage we see one way turns out to have happened another. It’s disorienting, and not in a good way.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that bodies start dropping and one of the sisters is the suspect. But as the film bounces around in time, between plot threads and in and out of reality, Tow becomes almost impossible to follow. Between that and just how different some of the footage looks I’m fairly certain this was pasted together around footage from an unfinished film or two.
The footage of the killer slicing up his victim and in his cell are grainy and oddly lit. The slicing footage is also quite gory and The Mechanic keeps his face hidden. The rest of the film isn’t grainy at all, has different lighting and is pretty much bloodless. And there’s some very obvious green screen when one of the characters walks towards his abattoir but never actually goes in.
Tow is another bottom-of-the-barrel film from Tubi. Hodder is only in a handful of scenes and doesn’t really do anything, The electric chair is a wooden dining room chair at the back of a storeroom. And Maddie and Abbie never appear together. Every expense was spared getting this film shot, and it shows.
By the time the film hit its final stretch Tow did work up some suspense as I waited to see if they were going to use the very obvious ending they were setting. Or if that was too obvious even for this film. Here Tow did surprise me and found a way to make what would have been a ridiculous ending even more laughable. Kane Hodder should be ashamed of himself for being in this trainwreck.
Tow is available free on Tubi for those who live where the service is available. But even for free this should be a hard pass. You can check with FilmTagger for some better choices for the night’s viewing.