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Independent Film Review – The Bad Shepherd

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Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! The Bad Shepherd is a perfect example of what happens when you rock up at the wrong place at the wrong time and start making bad decisions. Of course there are always opportunities for redemption being presented. Sadly, these were being ignored left, right, and centre. Still, we wouldn’t have much of a film if they didn’t make such a mess of things. So, how did the four friends (Paul/Christos Kalabogias, John/Scotty Tovar, Travis/Brett Zimmerman, and Leonard/Justin Taite} get into the situation where they were faced with the choices which led to things going so badly wrong?

We start off with an overhead shot of a car driving through a forest. Driving the car is a woman on her own. She appears to have been through some stuff as she is a bit scuffed up and appears to have been shot. On the passenger seat is a gun and there’s a large bag stuffed with cash on the back seat. Unfortunately, she gets a flat tyre and has to come to a stop. She looks in the boot but there is no spare tyre and she grabs the gun and the bag of cash and starts limping down the road. She hasn’t gone far when four friends in a big truck knock her down and kill her. And with that the scene is set for the bad decisions to start!

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What Did You Do?

They initially start to check her out and are about to call the emergency services. However, they find the gun and the money and decide that there is something fishy going on! They give up on the idea of calling for help and decide to just bury her in the woods and go off with the money. Then, just after they’ve wrapped the body in a plastic sheet and thrown her on the back of their truck, a police car arrives. The officer (Douglas Smith) looks around the woman’s abandoned car and drives up to the four friends. He asks whether they have seen a woman carrying a bag and they all deny seeing her. He then asks why they have stopped and they dither about until it turns into a very bad day for the policeman. And we’re only just over ten minutes in!

They then have to come up with plans to cover their tracks and get off to the hunting lodge they were originally headed for. They mean to just count and split the money and then go home as though nothing had happened. But then things start to go very runny indeed. Enter Sidney (Geo Santini). He drives to the cabin that the friends are staying at and gets out just as they are burying the woman they knocked down earlier. Incidentally, I’m not being rude by not mentioning who plays the woman who started the whole story rolling but my screener copy stopped before the credits! Anyway, Sidney walks in as calm and confident as you like. He is assured, unarmed, and only wants one thing…the money. 

What Had To Be Done

So, who is he? My first thought was there was some sort of organised crime element. Obviously the woman had stolen the money from the mob and Sidney was sent to retrieve the money. But, before long, it becomes obvious that there is much more to Sidney than meets the eye. He knows a lot about each of the friends…more than the friends know about each other. When he arrived, Sidney offered the group a simple choice. Give the money back and go on your way or, well, to be honest Sidney wasn’t offering an alternative. He was going to be leaving with the money regardless and the only choice the friends had was about the state they’d be in when he left. 

But a bag containing in excess of $2 million is hard to walk away from. And it is that simple premise that drives The Bad Shepherd along. Simple but effective. What really sells it is the performances and the writing. Directing and playing Sidney is Geo Santini and he is excellent in both roles; I will be looking out for his future projects. The story was written by Ryan David Jahn; unbelievably The Bad Shepherd is his first writing credit. Between them they have come up with a Tarantino-esque thriller that has twists and turns right up to the end. I suspected how the end was going to turn out but didn’t get it right! 

The Bad Shepherd is available on UK digital 22nd April from Scatena & Rosner Films

Movie Grade: A-

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Terry McCleary

September 23, 2023

This app is the best wingman for a movie goer, especially when you have to go. It even has a vibrating timer that is spot on for those ‘go times’ some of us need! There are many other features that are wonderful. It even lets you know when the kill scenes are coming up for the people and animals for those who may have sensitivities to that type of content. The staff go above and beyond!

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