The Free-For-All — Walk Away (2020) is the Michael Jordan of being boring


Flier for the film, “Walk Away.”

When life hands you lemons, you typically make lemonade.

But once upon a time, life handed lemons to the filmmakers behind Walk Away, and they decided to take a different approach: in one big bite, they ate them whole – skin and all.

You see, most bad movies aren’t The Room or Troll 2. A vast majority of them are just a chore to watch. But it’s amazing how stubbornly uneventful Walk Away is — a total rejection of the very idea of entertainment. And not in a way where it could be mistaken for “artsy,” either; Walk Away isn’t subversive, it’s just plain clueless.

It’s about a cabin that won’t let you leave. And not in like an Evil Dead sort of way, but in an “unexplained teleportation reality glitch” sort of way — stray too far away from the premises, and you’ll find yourself zapped straight back into one of the bedrooms. Hijinks were scheduled to ensue, but I think they got stuck in traffic or something. 

So yeah, we’re not off to a great start — this premise is straight-up poo. But as a serial consumer of poo (not literally!), I’ve seen B-movies turn ideas that are just as dumb into solid entertainment — maybe one day I’ll talk about Dollman

But Walk Away is a cat of an entirely different coat. At every junction where something interesting could happen, Walk Away straight up doesn’t seem to notice. 

This is a horror film that shoots for The Shining and ends up being “Mr. Magoo.” It’s a paradox — remarkably unremarkable. The director-duo of Jason Dean and Matthew Nash are archwizards of blandness, and Walk Away is their grand statement. If it were a literal statement, it’d probably look like this: “…”

Our story begins with a “curveball,” actually — now I know that seems like it contradicts what I said before about it not being subversive, but trust me, this is the kind of curveball you’re more likely to see in tee-ball than in any adult sport. 

Usually, when a film starts in media res (which is just fancy talk for “the middle of the plot”), the moment it throws you into is an important one. And if not an important one, it should at least be exciting. But with Walk Away being Walk Away, you can throw any expectations of excitement out the window immediately — instead, what we get is an awkward side profile shot of two vaguely bewildered women staring off in opposite directions. And for some reason, they’re all hands-and-feet on a dirty bachelor pad carpet. 

Sure, there’s a guy chopping up a body outside, and that could be reasonably considered scary, but then we flashback to where our story began – and by the time we catch back up to this weird flash-forward, we still have an entire act-and-a-half of the movie left to sit through. What the fuck is this supposed to be, Ratatouille? Human Centipede? Blue Velvet? 

Well, if Dennis Hopper was in there ripping whippets out of an aerosol can and acting like a madman like in Blue Velvet, then maybe we’d have a film on our hands. But instead, we get a cast that is, from top-to-bottom, the most boring roster of horror film characters I’ve ever seen. They’re not even boring in a “stock” kinda way: cliches only become cliche because they worked well enough at a point that they became a screenwriting shortcut. But this might as well be a CSPAN documentary about craft beer guys. Even the girls feel like Wilco albums with arms and legs and iPhones.

It’s different, I suppose – in some ways, it’s a lateral move from your typical fare. Instead of dumb one-liners and gross-out humor like in an Eli Roth movie, we get way too much improvised dialogue and actors who seem like they’re playing themselves until the script dictates otherwise. The performances aren’t horrible, but if anything that only goes to make things more boring. It feels too much like real life — like you got stuck hanging out with your least favorite cousin’s second-favorite friend group. 

Honestly, douchebags rule… at least when it comes to getting something out of your audience, even if that something is just a sigh of relief after Jason Voorhees beats them to death with a chunk of firewood. But Walk Away makes watching people die feel like you’re taking (and failing) the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner

Upon discovery of their little teleportation conundrum, our cast of characters — their names aren’t important, trust me — almost immediately resign themselves to their fate. There’s very little of them trying to figure out how this weird time-space anomaly really works or anything like that. Between the (maybe) two scenes of investigation in the whole film, one features one of the girls making some pancakes in the background, completely oblivious to the whole thing.

We don’t get any scenes of these characters theorizing what could be happening, not even an existential crisis over “WHY GOD, WHY?” until there are only two of them left. 

No, there’s just a long time-lapse-ish shot of a guy with a man-bun being really shitty at guitar instead. And we get to see the girls do some yoga — by the time that happens, Man-Bun is merely scenes away from going postal and straight merking Comedy Relief Fat Guy (a descent to madness that ostensibly began over a single pillow stolen in the middle of the night).

Don’t feel too bad for him, though — we totally saw him watching the girls sleep not even 10 minutes ago. I mean, the girls saw him too, they caught him utterly red-handed actually, but then they just fell back asleep without even saying anything or looking surprised. 

It’s like The Exorcist if Regan’s mom just straight up didn’t give a fuck. “Oh, her head went all the way around, you say? Well, she is going through puberty, father, I’m sure it’s just her blossoming femininity, or some shit,” she says before putting her cigarette out on the ottoman. 

If the goal here was to creep us out, then Walk Away is trying to do it with both hands tied behind its back. It’s a self-serious, “psychological” horror movie where no one ever gets too scared — the main character is too busy checking her phone to ever be too concerned with the shit going down around her.

There’s no urgency, no duress — you’d think they’d start running out of food at some point, but no, the fridge literally respawns beer and snacks for them on command. That’s a no-brainer way to introduce tension that is completely hand-waved away like it’s nothing. Your average bad indie horror movie would just ignore the issue of food completely. Walk Away diligently ties up the supposed plot hole… by explaining it in such a way that takes any tension it could possibly muster and launches it directly into the sun. 

When common sense shouts “Marco” from one end of the pool, Walk Away shouts back, “WHERE?” Whereas the last movie I reviewed, The Source, has a lot more of that classic “bad movie night” DNA coursing through its veins, Walk Away is something I’d only recommend watching if you’re looking for an example of how stubbornly bad some movies can be. It’s more of an autopsy than a roller coaster ride, really, but a fascinating autopsy nonetheless – like finding a mouse who starved to death in a cheese factory.

If the idea of fun makes you want to call the police, you can watch Walk Away right here for free. If you’re normal, the same streaming service also has “Columbo,” the Adam West “Batman” TV show and Predator, which are all not only free but are also things I can recommend without also comparing them to dead animals.