REVIEW: Val (2021)

dir. Aaron Fradkin

Taking a familiar set-up (an on-the-run criminal breaks into the home of a high-class escort) this latest work from director Aaron Fradkin (who co-writes with Victoria Fratz) skilfully manages to break free of predictability.

For Val, both the character and film, is a breath of fresh air. Delightfully breezy without taking itself too seriously, it’s a terrific show-reel for Misha Reeves in the titular role. A joy to watch, Reeves’ performance shifts to match the story’s tone: at times funny, moving and even scary, she immediately sets herself out as a rising genre star. The rest of the ensemble compliment her performance well, especially Zachary Mooren’s Fin, who is just human enough to not fall into stereotypical villainy.

Fradkin too has a wonderful confidence here, letting moments breathe whilst retaining a brisk pace. Val never overstays its welcome and, if anything, could have benefited from an extra few moments in the last act to allow audiences to fully enjoy where the film goes. It all looks a treat as well, with Keelan Carothers’ camerawork enhancing the single location beautifully.

Bold and confident, Val is funny and – when it needs to be – a bit silly, but never undercuts proceedings in the pursuit of a punchline. With a star-making turn from Reeves and a final that will delight horror fans, this is one late night encounter worth having.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Russell Bailey

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