Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Peppergrass (2023)

Movie Name/Year: Peppergrass (2023)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 1h 34min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Terror Films, BLS Productions, Barbet Films
Director: Steven Garbas, Chantelle Han
Writer: Steven Garbas, Philip Irwin
Actors: Chantelle Han, Charles Boyland, Michael Copeman, Philip Williams, Craig Porritt
Blurb from IMDb: During a pandemic, a pregnant restaurateur tries to rob a priceless truffle from a reclusive veteran.

Selina’s Point of View:
Peppergrass was a recipe horror film. If there’s a cabin in the woods horror movie trope out there, Peppergrass utilized it.
When we watched the trailer for Peppergrass during our monthly stream, I mentioned some commonalities I saw between it and Pig (2021). I vaguely remember going on about how it would have a lot to live up to if that was the flick it was going to be compared to. As it turns out, the only similarity was the existence of the truffle-sniffing hog. Peppergrass was a lot more like a slow version of Don’t Breathe (2016).
I feel the need to stress the word: slow.

Peppergrass took about 20 minutes to get started and then barely had time to pick up before it slowed all the way down again. Then it stayed that way until the end. All the heart-pounding scenes are in the trailer. Every single one of them. The rest of it is lackadaisical at best.
I get that it was trying to do what every great lost in the woods/hunted horror flick does. Peppergrass wanted me to be on the edge of my seat about whether the protagonist would be caught. All the fake-outs are clear about that. But they never seemed to be in all that much danger unless the antagonist was right there. I didn’t feel any of it.
It wasn’t all bad.
Chantelle Han (Black Summer, Save Me, The Dorm) did her absolute best. Even though I didn’t buy the story, and rarely found myself invested, when I did it was because she seemed to believe it. She tried her best to sell every single aspect of Peppergrass. She just didn’t have enough to work with.

Cat’s Point of View:
Peppergrass looked interesting at first blush when we watched the trailer. It appeared to be a darkly comedic heist thriller. Our worry was that it would pale in comparison to the award-winning and much-applauded Pig (2021) which had a similar theme.
Well, I must admit that I haven’t seen Pig yet - but I’m pretty sure that Peppergrass is significantly different. Unfortunately, I’m also sure that it will still pale in comparison.
Filmmakers have a significant task when they make a trailer - it needs to capture an audience’s attention and intrigue them enough to watch the movie without giving too much away. If the whole thing can be summed up by the trailer and it gives away the best bits, there’s no point in watching the film. Further, a dull trailer chases moviegoers away from the production. At the same time, you’d think it would also be a priority to correctly paint a picture of what to expect from the movie as far as genre and tone are concerned. Otherwise, audiences might feel tricked - as if there was a bait and switch happening.
I can’t help but feel a little bit baited here. I was expecting a bit goofier bungled burgling along with the fight for survival when things go pear-shaped. What I got was very little of the former and a hell of a lot more of the latter. Had this been pitched more as a survival thriller, it would have landed a little better, I think.

I had a bit of mental whiplash as the tone unexpectedly shifted early in. Peppergrass was far more serious than I anticipated. While the story did have a few questionable moments, it was generally solid. There was a respectable twistiness to it, and the ending was satisfying.
Given that this was the feature debut for the directing team of Steven Garbas (Pinkville) and lead Chantelle Han, some of the missteps that the production took can be chalked up to a learning curve. Who knows, the trailer situation could have been out of their hands.
All told Peppergrass was decent. It was occasionally hard for me to keep my attention focused due to long periods without much action or dialogue - but that could just be my ADHD. The story was interesting, and I could empathize with the desperation of a grieving restauranteur amid the initial pandemic lockdown.
Fans of survival thrillers might get a little more out of Peppergrass than anyone expecting a comedic romp through a truffle-hunting heist.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –7.5/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 2.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: 

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