When Jacob Aaron Estes’ latest film — and his first since the unmitigated disaster that was the Tobey Maguire-starring “The Details,” from 2011 — debuted at Sundance this past January, it was under the slightly video-game-esque title “Relive,” a wink at the unexpected nature of its time-traveling drama. Now the film, starring David Oyelowo and “Wrinkle in Time” breakout Storm Reid, has a new title and a chilling first trailer to help sell it.
The film is now known as “Don’t Let Go,” which speaks to another facet of its drama, a canny riff on time travel tropes. Per the film’s official synopsis, it follows “detective Jack Radcliff (Oyelowo) [who] gets a shocking phone call from his recently-murdered niece Ashley (Reid). Working together across time, they race to solve her murder before it can happen.” The film also stars Mykelti Williamson, Brian Tyree Henry, Shinelle Azoroh, Byron Mann, April Grace, and Alfred Molina.
Estes’ film builds on the tenuousness of modern-day connectivity — Ashley can literally only call her uncle from her cell phone, the only bond they still have across time and tragedy — to craft a contemporary twist on some classic time travel questions.
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Still, it wasn’t exactly a hit at the festival, and despite a number of reviews, it’s only notched a 47% over at Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics were taken with its premise and acting — this is, after all, a hell of a cast for any kind of film, no matter the genre — but less enthusiastic about the execution of a high concept idea. The first trailer for the film does lean into those strengths, though, including Oyelowo and Reid’s warm chemistry, a pervasive tension that speaks to the film’s dramatic chops, and plenty of shots of those very important smart phones.
Later this year, Blumhouse will release two other intriguing-sounding thrillers: Craig Zobel’s “Most Dangerous Game”-sounding “The Hunt” and Sophia Takal’s updated take on the classic chiller “Black Christmas.” Next year, it will bow, of all things, an updated scary take on “Fantasy Island” and a Leigh Wannell-Direhcted version of the “Invisible Man” monster mythos.
Check out the first trailer for “Don’t Let Go” below. The film hits theaters, thanks to Blumhouse Tilt, on August 30.