Overview: In a Texas town, a boy who has just lost his grandmother becomes entangled in a small time conman’s scheme-turned-murder spree when a desperate attempt hits a little too close to home. Traverse Media; 2015; Not Rated; 93 minutes.
Southern Style: Texas thrillers seem to, more often than not, exude a seedy, almost claustrophobic vibe with their patiently rising tensions and casts of always flawed, often untrustworthy, and occasionally unsavory characters. Two Step is no exception, a self-contained, cutthroat, slow burner, fully equipped with a hodgepodge of loners whose commonality is their desire to just let and let live. The unhurried pace of this film kicks in to high gear when these loners begin to collide and blood begin to shed. Director Alex R. Johnson applies assured precision to the observation of these lost, slightly desperate souls, creating the same detached atmosphere these characters give off as they stumble through their daily lives.
The Con Gone Wrong: The performances in Two Step are all nothing short of chilling, boasting one of the most straightforward, yet unnerving villains in recent memory. James Landry Hebert brings a detached, icy cold demeanor to Webb, a man who lacks any semblance of sympathy or even humanity, kicking into panicked survival mode after his personal and criminal comforts are threatened. What begins as simple ruthless cruelty abruptly transforms into a manic, absurdly unstable series of executions that become increasingly erratic and brutal, a reflection of his deteriorating grasp on reality as he loses control as every constant in his life is threatened.
The Young and the Restless: Although James is incapacitated for the majority of the second half of the film, Skyy Moore’s portrayal of a young boy who is hesitantly living in limbo with no one left to provide him consistency or direction is subtle and nuanced, with just enough vulnerability and immaturity to create both the perfect victim for Webb and the most unlikely friend for Dot (Beth Broderick), the town’s dance teacher/homewrecker. The psychological depth of every character in this film is explored to the fullest extent, while still maintaining a sense of enigmatic isolation and discomfort, which is most apparent in the final scene of the film when the camera cuts away without showing Dot reunite with James, keeping us from witnessing any real connection.
Overall: The concise characterization and slow boil build make Two Step a worthy addition to the Texas thriller sub-genre.