It’s the call from his mother which sets Leo on a resentful road trip to collect his former drug addict sister Virginia from wherever she has got herself stuck. They’ve not spoken in years, since the last argument; she doesn’t know he’s married, with a daughter, divorce now pending, and he doesn’t really care where she has been or her claims that she is now clean.
Too many bridges burned for Leo to give her the benefit of the doubt, Virginia is in the midst of a seizure when he finds her; initially unwilling to talk to her brother, her later attempts are rebuffed with anger and mockery, but finally she opens enough to tell him that she believes she is cursed, the cult which helped her kick the drugs having bound her in a blood ritual which can only be broken by death.
Shot on two iPhones over twelve days, Threshold is a bad road trip from directors Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young following the awkward reunion between the siblings played by Joey Millin and Madison West, slowly forgiving each other as Leo comes to realise his own history may not have followed quite the same path as Virginia’s but that it passed the same landmarks of disappointment and persistently letting others down.
The script credited to Young, much of the dialogue was improvised between the two leads as their characters cross deserts and snowy mountains, staying in motels and luxurious apartments as they seek the man to whom Virginia believes she is tied, not even knowing his name, tracking the link between them while nagged by the sense that someone is following them, though travelling Hallowe’en week false alarms are everywhere among the decorations and fallen leaves.
Leo and Virginia comfortable enough to slack through their lives, he a music teacher after he walked out of his band, she a law graduate who can get the family to pay for rehab whenever she pulls herself out of oblivion, they laugh about teenage pranks where they used to shoplift not because they needed to but just because they could, their failures permitted by the understanding that they have a safety net.
An interesting premise which lays the groundwork of a sense of unease, much of Threshold works but just as much falls, the scattered flashpoints too few along the meandering path they take where the perception of drama in confrontations and arguments takes priority over pushing the slender story forwards, the nocturnal confrontation of their ultimate destination palpably sinister but too brief, almost a punchline rather than a resolution.
Threshold will be available on the Arrow channel from Monday 3rd May