Union Furnace (2015)


Union FurnaceStarring Mike Dwyer, Seth Hammond, Katie Keene

Directed by Nicholas Bushman

I’m not now, nor have I ever been a gambling man – hell, I piss and moan if I drop 20 bucks sitting at a friggin slot machine, let alone participate in some kind of life or death high-stakes game where the opportunity to really clean up will rely on your ability to win…or cease existing.

Directed by Nicholas Bushman, Union Furnace offers a gritty look at a seriously demented undertaking that is held by some unbalanced individuals at the request of some even more detached gamblers, and it involves a group of eight lucky (or unlucky) participants, who are contesting for a landslide of cash… and their lives as well.

Small-town car thief Cody (Dwyer) is running out of options to score some dough – he can’t boost a ride worth any value lately, and he already has an overdue statement with a loan shark that is threatening his life. One day after a back-road accident, Cody meets up with mysterious stranger (Hammond – who will be known as “The Lion), who offers him a chance to get out of debt – all he has to do is take a gamble, and it’s one that he’ll never forget. Sandwiched in a small space that best could be described as a guest room at the Brady Bunch’s house, Cody and 7 others complete with spray-painted numbers on their chests, are held at gunpoint and battle in different simplistic contests – if you’re not the sole loser of each round, you move on and are rewarded with a fat stack of cash deposited into a small lockbox.

From facile board games to musical chairs, right on down to “electrified pole-grab” and Russian roulette, competitors are whittled down, and some serious dollars are anted up for the remaining partakers. Echoing some kind of pseudo-deranged masquerade-styled fiesta, both the captors and the betting audience are clad in the cheesiest of Halloween masks and dance and revel in the gamers’ various stages of misery, despair, and sportsmanship fueled by greed.

Bushman delivers a solid punch to the gut in a movie where even right down to the smallest performance, he gets his actors to give their all, and even industry notable Keith David (The Thing, They Live) gets in on the action as an overly pissed off contestant whose propensity to question his captors could result in severe penalties. Any way you cut this one, I couldn’t find fault with the acting, but my stamp of approval has got to go to Hammond in his portrayal of the McConaughey-like “cooler-than-cool” master of ceremonies, wherein a serene Southern drawl, combined with the freakiest dance talent you’ve ever seen, makes up for a convincing lead villain. If there were to be a negative, it would be the slow spots in both dialogue and action; however, these mere pauses in tempo add to the coldness of the display and the wonder if this sort of thing could actually be happening behind closed doors in these sleepy towns.

In conclusion, this furnace has got the heat that will provide a blast of prescribed air to those gamblers who might be feeling the need for an intervention, as this film is better than any support meeting you could ever attend.

  • Film
User Rating 3.27 (11 votes)


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