Updated: May 19, 2021
by Alex Leptos
By gritHouse Films and director Terrell Lamont comes a no-nonsense thriller that grabs you by the throat immediately from the opening scene.
Hush Money follows the misfortunes of an art teacher who owes money to the wrong people and thus kidnaps the daughter of the ballplayer whose miss was the straw that broke the cash camel’s back, in hopes that he will cough up the sizable amount to save her.
First of all, I have to say that the performances by the two leads Joshua Ray and Kennedy Waite are masterful and believable as the conflicted and desperate family-man who breaks bad and the teenage girl who is forced to go along with the madness. Joshua Ray as Doug Shaw is one of those performances so powerful that the viewer feels everything along with him. He states whilst describing a painting that he remembers “every mistake and every detail”; perhaps a metaphor for his journey. Furthermore, his struggles as an artist and his wife’s reluctance to believe in his abilities to make it is relatable to every creative who has been told the same thing.
Kennedy Waite as Kennedy Joseph is exceptional as she knows deep down that Doug is not a bad person, however can’t be too careful and does try to escape a number of times. Unlike many kidnap victims across film, Kennedy does not adhere to the ‘damsel in distress’ type of character and despite her young age, holds her own; able to take care of herself.
The bond that the two go on to develop unfolds in a very natural way and never feels too sudden or too slow and culminates in a heart-warming moment as they discuss and share their mutual love of art.
Other minor characters include the postman who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, developing a bad case of verbal diarrhea as he tries to get himself out of the situation that he has literally become tied up in. Also the neighbours whom Kennedy runs to in a bid to escape, only to find herself trapped again under other motives. The following scene of which seemed a little thrown in; however, it can be interpreted that perhaps Lamont wanted to present Doug as a hero and cement him as a sympathetic character, further aiding the bond between Kennedy and himself.
Despite that “heart-warming” moment, it is not recommended that you ever let yourself get too comfortable during Hush Money’s 88 minutes. Split into chapters like the best graphic novel, the film is on a speed road and hits all the bumps along the way as gritHouse lives up to their name.
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