How’s this for a meet-cute: Sandra (Sarah Lockard) bumps into Ted (Steven Johnson) in a dance club, spilling beer on his paisley shirt, and is so embarrassed that she attempts suicide in the alley outside. Ted saves her life, then immediately moves into her apartment and starts manipulating her for money. Todd Allen-Long shows up halfway through as Sandra’s gay co-worker, who supports her attempt to go back to college with some much-needed comic relief, but the PTSD effects of her abusive past threaten to derail her future.
As written by Michael Freeman (2017’s Murder Sleep
), The Hammered Dog
is a neo-noir mashup of a Burning Bed
-style Lifetime movie with The Twilight Zone
. The unsavory subject matter and lurid language is so over the top that it sometimes borders on self-parody, but the deeply invested actors treat it all with deadly seriousness. Director Laurel Clark (with Jim Cundiff) drives her actors to dive headfirst into the dire scenario, dialing up the emotional intensity to 11 from the opening lines.
Ted ticks every box on the standard-issue “Is my BF a psycho?” questionnaire, and Johnson is so believable as the egotistical misanthrope that you’ll want to wait outside the theater to knee him in the ’nads. While it’s hard to understand why someone as smart as Lockard’s character would fall for his transparent (lack of) charms so swiftly, she shines in a go-for-broke role that showcases her enormous acting range. Despite some slightly confusing plotting and predictable twists, Lockard’s performance alone makes this pulpy potboiler worth pausing for.
The Hammered Dog
Ages 13 and up
Friday, May 17th 10:45 PM
Sunday, May 19th 5:30 PM
Monday, May 20th 9:30 PM
Saturday, May 25th 4:30 PM
Sunday, May 26th 9:15 PM