Tone-Deaf (2019)

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A woman who nearly loses it all may get a lot more lost in this thriller from that has Robert Patrick in one of his most insane roles to date.

Olive is a former piano protégé who has lived a miserable life since her father’s death. She is struggling with relationships and her latest one has just imploded to the point where she kicks him out of her apartment. On top of that, she has lost her job. Not knowing what to do, Olive’s friends advise her to get out of Los Angeles for a little while to find herself. When her mother, who has lived a more bohemian lifestyle since her husband’s death, suggests the same, Olive decides to heed everyone’s advice and leave the city.

She rents a house from Harvey, a recent widower, who has not been doing well since his wife’s passing. Harvey has been slowly sinking into a very dark depression, triggered by a combination of his wife’s death and the changing times. He has had pent-up frustrations inside him, ones that become unleashed when he had had enough. He begins to spy on Olive and upon hearing her play the piano at his house, it becomes a trigger as he begins to kill anyone who comes close to Olive with the intent of making her his next victim. As Olive soon realizes what is going on, she must rely on her instincts and the one person she never expected to get help from.

The titular term of “tone-deaf” means the inability to perceive differences of musical pitch accurately. For this film, written and directed by Richard Bates Jr., the film has somewhat of a double meaning as it pertains to both the protagonist and antagonist. In the case of the former, the perception of being a piano player as a child and having an inaccuracy perhaps due to the death of her father. In the case of the latter, it is that piano player that becomes the trigger for his finally unleashing his psychotic rage towards his victims.

Amanda Crew brings quite an interesting character in Olive. Perhaps not completely over the death of her father on a subconscious level, she feels like a complete failure and is miserable from the beginning. We see her latest relationship just fall apart to the point of where he moves out. We see her lose her job after standing up to her supervisor. She even can’t stand her mother’s new outlook on life and despite everything, heeds advice from those around her to take a break for a while. As she spends her time in the house, she still feels a sense of misery until an incident involving her getting drugged leads to perhaps a life-changing event that finally makes her sees the light about her own life.

Robert Patrick is one actor who will definitely be known for playing villains and this one is perhaps, one of his craziest roles since say, Double Dragon. Patrick starts out somewhat likable and one you can only feel empathy for as he mourns his wife. However, once Olive starts practicing on the piano, it becomes a trigger for Patrick’s Harvey the same way the school bell triggered Michael Landon’s transformation into a beast in I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Patrick doesn’t really kill anyone random except maybe one character, but he targets those who come close to Olive, including those he feels wants to hurt her. The finale is quite a hoot and it also includes Kim Delaney’s Crystal, Olive’s bohemian mother, having a bit of a subplot that may feel unnecessary at first, but soon shows why her subplot is ultimately necessary.

Tone-Deaf is more than a slasher film. It’s about a woman coming to terms with her own life while eventually having to evade the stalker and killer who’s entered her life. Patrick’s role is slowly delving to a Nicolas Cage-level in terms of playing bad guys.

WFG RATING: B

Saban Films presents a Best Medicine production in association with Circle of Confusion. Director: Richard Bates Jr. Producers: Brion Hambel, Paul Jensen, Lawrence Mattis, Brad Mendelsohn, and Matt Smith. Writer: Richard Bates Jr. Cinematography: Ed Wu. Editing: Yvonne Valdez.

Cast: Amanda Crew, Robert Patrick, Kim Delaney, Hayley Marie Norman, AnnaLynne McCord, Johnny Pemberton, Ray Wise, Ray Santiago, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Shane Brady, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Morgan Krantz, Tate Ellington, Nancy Linehan Charles, Heidi Kaufman.

Saban Films will release the film in theaters, On Demand, and Digital on August 23.

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