Directed by Christopher Glatis
For a movie that arrived on DVD with very little fanfare, Dose of Reality is actually a rather solid little thriller that manages to pack in a few surprises along the way despite a minimal budget at its disposal.
Starring Fairuza Balk, Rick Ravanello and Ryan Merriman, Dose of Reality begins with two guys (Ravanello and Merriman) going about their normal routine of closing up the bar they work at together at the end of long night. What they don’t expect is to find a young woman named Rose (Balk) passed out in the bathroom, unable to remember how she got there or what happened to her right before.
As the trio begins to question each other in an effort to discover the truth about the events of that night, they soon begin to realize they all have their own secrets, and what’s revealed about their inherent natures does somehow play into the events of that night. To say anything more gives away many of Dose of Reality’s biggest surprises, but suffice to say people aren’t exactly as they seem, and as the story unfolds, so do some deep dark secrets that shed a lot of light about what happened to Rose and just how the two men who discovered her are responsible for her ending up passed out at their place of business.
On paper Dose of Reality doesn’t necessarily seem all that unique or unusual, but as far as what you see on screen, the entire cast completely elevates the concept with their performances, resulting in a fierce and wildly entertaining character study that goes to some disturbing and violent places, reminiscent of some of playwright Tracy Letts’ works from early in his career. Balk is dynamic as usual, and her co-stars, particularly Ravanello, dig deep to give us characters that you may not always like but you can’t help but watch.
Dose of Reality does suffer from a few missteps though; the film’s finale is awkward and almost clunky enough to completely take viewers out of the otherwise strong story, and we spend far too much time chatting it up early on in the film instead of getting right down to business, which will undoubtedly challenge more selective audiences. Writer/director Christopher Glatis certainly doesn’t have a lot of credits to his name previous to this project, and while there are still aspects of the film that could have used more fine-tuning (or a seasoned storyteller), I’d be interested in seeing what he does next based on his work in Dose of Reality alone.
Those of you who appreciate a character-driven thriller over the guts and gore more straightforward horror films usually offer will probably find a lot to enjoy in Dose of Reality. Who knows? You may end up being just as surprised as this writer by how much you end up enjoying Glatis’ micro-budgeted thriller.
3 1/2 out of 5