Open 24 Hours came out in 2018. It was written and directed by Padraig Reynolds (The Rites of Spring, The Devil's Dolls). It stars Vanessa Grasse (Leatherface, Asteral) as Mary, our main character. The film revolves around Mary, who recently got a job as the sole graveyard worker at a gas station called the Gas Deer Market. Within the first minutes of the film, we learn Mary was recently released from prison after lighting her ex-boyfriend on fire. Her ex-boyfriend James, played by Cole Vigue (The 100, When We Rise), had been murdering women and was dubbed the “Rain Ripper”. Mary has some trauma from what her ex-boyfriend did and how things ended. She takes anti-psychotic medication, and her file describes her as delusional and paranoid. Finding this out early on makes Mary a possibly unreliable narrator, which is a trope that I very much enjoy.
We spend Mary’s first night at work with her. She is trying to settle back into society and really wants this job to work out. Before Mary goes to work, we see that she does not want her phone plugged in or on. Her parole officer Tom, played by Daniel O’Meara (Under the Skin, Here Lies), informs her that he needs to be able to get in touch with her. Mary has been getting mysterious phone calls but fails to inform Tom. Mary was dubbed “The Watcher” during the trial, her boyfriend told everyone that they were a team, and she liked to watch him murder the women he abducted. We see that Mary has flashbacks of these events, which explain what is written in her file.
It's clear Mary is considered public enemy number one; whether or not she deserves it is yet to be seen. She believes she is getting phone calls from the families of the women that James murdered. However, not everyone thinks that Mary is evil. Her coworker Bobby, played by Brenden Fletcher (Violent Night, The Revenant), is very kind to her. We see Mary open up to him at the gas station after he asks about her time in jail. She further explains that James would call her whenever it was raining, and he would sing ‘Raindrops’ by Dee Clark. This phone call meant that James was going to murder someone. We hear this song many times throughout the 100-minute run time.
The set for the film adds to the unsettling feelings. The music and repeat song keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Trying to decide if Mary is seeing James keeps the audience guessing for a while. Is this figure hooded a hallucination, or is it actually James? Or is someone pretending to be James to get back at Mary?
At the film's climax, someone has taken Mary's friend Debbie, her parole officer Tom, and Bobby hostage and is holding them in the back of the gas station. This scene is very intense and makes up for the slight prolonging of the film's first half. The other intense scene is Mary running through what looks to be a junkyard trying to survive/ hide. Mary is a resourceful character and is able to think fast on her feet which ultimately helps keep her alive.
This figure spends most of the film tormenting Mary, and she has to figure out how to try and keep herself safe and those few people around her. Mary is a really intriguing character, and I feel like the story and Grasse’s acting keep the audience guessing whether Mary was actually a contributor to the murders or another one of James’ victims. While she is insistent she never took part in the murders, there is a strong feeling of uncertainty even at the end of the film. In my opinion, the film never fully gives an answer to that question which makes me enjoy it even more.
Overall the film does a great job with the set design, and it really feels like this gas station is cut off from the rest of society. Watching Mary utilize what is around her to survive and overcome the immense emotions she is experiencing makes for a thrilling watch. The ending is ambiguous, which may frustrate some people, but I found this aspect exciting and helps the film stay with you. I recommend this one if you would enjoy a little psychological slasher.
7 out of 10 Screams