Two twentysomething slacker buddies go from trying to have a mood-elevating night out to being pursued by ruthless killers in the crime caper dark comedy Camino. Director/co-writer Justin Herring and co-writer John Patrick Hughes have crafted a fun feature that offers tension and some bloody violence along with its engaging humor.
As the film opens, an exasperated Mark Allmand (Matthew James) has just received news that he is going to be a father from shrewish, foul-mouthed Becky Stableton (Bonnie Gayle), and his friend Jack Hayes (Cody Michael Davids) looks to get him out of his funk by way of one of their favorite means of acquiring free beer: stealing people’s coolers. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the pair happens upon a cooler ripe for the taking in the back of a vehicle, and Jack isn’t one to waste an opportunity — unless, of course, it means putting in a full shift at his Uncle Alvin’s (D.B. Stewart) driving range.
Little does the duo know, though, that the vehicle belongs to a pair of killers who are dealing with a messy death in the convenience store where their vehicle is parked. When patient, talkative Old (Reynolds Washam) and his highly strung British partner Youngin (Simon Phillips) discover that their cooler is missing, they go on a relentless search for the culprits that involves bribery, murder, and junk food.
The reason the murderous criminals want their cooler back is because it contains two human kidneys. They leave a path of bodies in their wake as they try to track down what belongs to them, which leads to a comically inept team of law enforcement officers attempting to put together the puzzle of what exactly is happening in their usually quiet town.
Herring and Hughes’ screenplay is filled with clever twists and amusing conversations, with humorous life and love philosophies discussed ranging from the simple to the absurd. Herring and Hughes have obviously watched their fair share of Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Kevin Smith films, but they fortunately avoid having their characters sound or feel like someone merely plucked out of one of those directors’ films. Mark, Jack, Becky, and the other heroes and villains rise above being mere stock characters, offering unique qualities that hold viewers’ attention until the final credits.
Camino’s cast members are solid throughout, with James and Davids playing off each other so well that their characters truly feel like long-time friends who have been through all kinds of escapades together. Their characters may be slackers, but James and Davids make them feel like likeable rogues rather than merely a couple of ne’er-do-wells. Washam and Phillips are terrific in their chemistry as a pair of criminals who don’t see eye to eye and whose personalities are remarkably different, but who work together toward a common goal. Gayle is meant to have her character Becky grate on viewers’ nerves, and she certainly succeeds, but Herring and Hughes allow the actress to show another side of her character, as well. The supporting cast is a lot of fun, too.
Camino is an infectious independent film with a huge heart. It recently won the Audience Choice Award for Funniest Feature Film and the Best On-Screen Duo Award at the Genre Blast Film Festival, and as it continues its festival run, I’m sure it will garner more nominations and wins along the way. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CaminoMovie/
Camino screened at Genre Blast Film Festival, which ran September 7–10 in Winchester, Virginia.