A taut, claustrophobic, lo-fi chiller, Curve dials things right down to a combination of woman versus man, and woman versus the elements, and just about succeeds.

Revisiting the classic genre stopping-off point of the hitchhiker with a secret to hide, Iain Softley’s shocker grips from the get-go (faltering at the last) and showcases a standout performance from Julianne Hough as the woman-in-peril.

Hough’s Mallory is making her way from San Francisco to Denver, taking the slow drive cross-country still mulling over whether committing to marriage is the right thing to do.

Stalling over turning up for the big day, she stalls for real when her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

Suddenly, with all seemingly lost, up pops Christian (Teddy Dears), a muscular charmer who just happens to be hiking in said canyon.

Having swiftly fixed the car, Mallory feels obliged to give Christian a lift – only for the hitchhiker to fairly quickly reveal himself as someone you don’t really want to be sharing a ride with.

Mallory decides to take drastic action, deliberately crashing her car while turning a curve (see what they did there), but rather than freeing herself from the nightmare, she finds herself trapped in the car, with no means of escape – and Christian seems to be out there somewhere….

As far as plot goes that is pretty much about it, with the bulk of the film focusing on Hough and her efforts to free herself from the wreckage – without success.

In fact the majority of the film is a succession of scenes with Mallory vainly fighting to stay alive, whether it be shivering through freezing nights, eating the odd rat or even downing a bottle of her own piss.

To be fair, it’s all faintly repetitive stuff, and I could understand some genre fans finding Curve something of a tedious watch.

But Hough sells the predicament in such a good way that I was willing to go with it, and her performance feels very real, almost raw in places.

Sears doesn’t really have that much to do, and his character is pretty two-dimensional (a few throwaway lines at the close try to explain his actions) but he’s solid enough.

Where Softley does score is the setting and location work – there’s a real sense of despair and fear hanging over the whole set-up, with the cramped interiors of the car crossed with the vast expanses of the canyons proving an eye-catching mix.

Things do get out of hand a bit at the climax, where Softley decides to throw in some horror and up the body count, chucking the thoughtful, slow-build formula that had worked up to that point out of the window.

But there is enough here to keep Curve in thumbs-up territory – outside the screening I heard somebody describe it as ‘127 Hours with added psychopath’, and I can’t really put it better myself.

DVD Review: Curve
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.