‘Some secrets should stay buried’
Don’t Tell a Soul is a 2020 thriller film about teenage thief brothers pitted against a security guard who is stuck at the bottom of a well.
Written and directed by Alex McAulay, the Mangano Movies & Media production stars Fionn Whitehead, Jack Dylan Grazer, Mena Suvari (What Lies Below; Day of the Dead 2008; The Rage: Carrie 2) and Rainn Wilson.
While stealing money to help their sick mother (Mena Suvari), teen brothers Matt and Joey (Fionn Whitehead and Jack Dylan Grazer) are surprised by Hamby (Rainn Wilson), a security officer who gives chase and is then trapped in a forgotten abandoned well.
Over the next few days, Joey and Hamby forge an uneasy relationship. Hamby tells Joey he’ll keep quiet if Joey sets him free. But Hamby holds another secret, one that will threaten Joey and his family…
“It’s reminiscent of the portrait of a corrupt male friendship in Super Dark Times, but with the added pressures of kinship and family. To describe Don’t Tell a Soul as a story of toxic masculinity is both accurate but, in a time when every film with a flawed or unpleasant male an/protagonist gets that tag, almost glib. There’s something rancid between the boys.” Austin Chronicle
“It’s a static feature, but it’s not sluggish, with the helmer working on ways to open up the psychological scope of the picture without spending precious cash on the production. Don’t Tell a Soul eventually gives in to the demands of thriller cinema, but for the first two acts, McAulay offers enough reasons to stick around, carefully developing his characters while adding necessary strangeness to the central survival plot.” Blu-ray.com
“Starting off with a Jane Austen quote (“What strange creatures brothers are!”), McAulay’s filmmaking is snappy but also scruffy, falling back into a lived-in, wintry, dead-leaf look. His script may not entirely, completely hold water, but it certainly feels genuinely unexpected and touching.” Common Sense Media
“Don’t Tell a Soul’s story swings into “Hollywood movie” mode where Deus ex dominos start dropping at a steady clip, significantly ratcheting up stakes at the expense of relative realism going right out the window. Those bored by Joey’s internal conflict get the action they crave. The rest of us are left wondering how much wilder a previously simple idea can get.” Culture Crypt
” …a psychological thriller with a seemingly simple plot. However, the execution and super-tight runtime of just 82 minutes, makes for very strong storytelling. Also, I have to credit this movie for being rather brutal in its realistic and gritty portrayal of life for these characters. This one is definitely worth watching!” Heaven of Horror
“Don’t Tell a Soul showcases some fantastic work by writer/director Alex McAulay, marking him as someone to keep an eye on, as well as very solid performances all around by the cast; especially Jack Dylan Grazer. Though the ending knocked things slightly off center for me, others may not hold that opinion. What we have here is a well-crafted, bleak, and moody thriller that will surely grasp horror fans…” Killer Horror Critic
“This isn’t a mere character study about the relationship between two very distinct people, though. It’s also and increasingly a thriller, which keeps raising the complications and stakes to the point that these characters don’t seem to be reacting to the situation at hand. They start to act in ways that seem more concerned with McAulay’s desire to complicate and heighten the plot as much and as many times as possible.” Mark Reviews Movies
“Rainn Wilson was fantastic throughout every act of this film. As each act passes, a different version of David is showcased, and Wilson kills it in this role. Finally, as the film reaches the final act, it takes this insane twist that makes you go what!!!!!! Alex McAuley’s writing was creative, different, and told a compelling but yet troubling story that was just utterly captivating from start to finish.” Music City Drive-In
“A plot twist saves (that might not be the word for it) Don’t Tell a Soul from being absolutely oppressive, merely by injecting a scintilla of “what happens next” appeal — and letting the always-interesting Wilson stretch a bit.” The New York Times, January 14, 2021
“What you might not expect from Don’t Tell a Soul is a giddily cynical streak of black humor that also defines Joey’s unusual relationship with Dave Hamby (Rainn Wilson), the security guard who falls down a forest well after he stumbles upon Matt and Joey’s crime. That sort of edgy, sorta grim sense of humor ultimately defines what works and what doesn’t in writer/director Alex McAulay’s debut, an ambitious black comedy that never goes far enough.” RogerEbert.com
Don’t Tell a Soul will be released theatrically (in select locations), On-Demand and Digital on January 15th 2021 by Lionsgate and Saban Films. Blu-ray + Digital and DVD releases follow on March 16th 2021. Discs include a documentary, Flesh & Blood: Creating Don’t Tell a Soul.
Cast and characters:
Fionn Whitehead … Matt
Jack Dylan Grazer … Joey
Mena Suvari … Carol
Rainn Wilson … Hamby
Graham Lutes … Tom Chowdee
Abigail Esmena … Officer Crane (as Abigail Esmena Froehle)
Richard Fike … Officer Smith
McKenna Christine Poe … Teenage Girl
Shannon Cogan … Broadcaster
Kate Duncan … Teenage Girl
Seth Poe … Party Guy
MOVIES and MANIA rating: