Review: ‘Walden’

Emile Hirsch Is The Vigilante No One Expected In Darkly Comic Revenge Thriller

Walden centers on court stenographer Walden Dean (Emile Hirsch), who lives in a small Georgia town. His life is pleasant and unassuming. Aside from a strained relationship with his father and trying to beat the world record for words per minute among stenographers, you could say things are damn near perfect. That is until the day he discovers that a brain tumor might bring things to a crashing halt. This turn of events causes him to rethink things and start a killing spree, exacting revenge on those who have escaped justice and been freed on technicalities. Eventually, it all uncovers a deeper, darker threat to this peaceful southern town. 

Running parallel to the main plot line, Detectives Kane (Shane West) and Hunt (Tania Raymonde) investigate the disappearance of a young boy. Abducted from his house in the middle of the night they uncover he is only one in a string of abductions over the preceding decade, adding a bit of mystery to the main storyline. 

Revenge flicks have always been prevalent in cinema and are popular for a reason. With the likes of Nobody, The Killer, and the John Wick series of films, there’s nothing better than rooting for the underdog to go out and take out bad guys. It gives the collective consciousness an outlet to vent their frustrations against the world…without doing anything illegal, that is. 

Walden takes this trope and redresses it with the nice guy gone bad played by Emile Hirsch. In a role that’s very different from what we’ve seen him in before, he seamlessly stands out and blends in at the same time as a bit of a button-down geek. Going into this film blind, it took me 20 minutes to realize who he was. It’s not a role I would have pictured him in prior to this but he plays it extremely well. With Inside Man and Helen’s Dead releasing this year I’m glad he’s kind of everywhere right now because I’m a fan. 

You can definitely see the influence director Mick Davis took from the Dexter series. Taking two unassuming civilian employees of the justice system with tragic backstories and slowly morphing them into the bloody hands of justice. Yes, it has been done before but what hasn’t? The similarities aren’t enough to take away from what Davis has here. He’s created a Southern Gothic horror/mystery with a familiar feel that will entertain the seasoned viewer. It’s not groundbreaking but nothing really is anymore. I found the mystery side enjoyable while still satisfying my onscreen blood lust.   

If you’re like me and enjoy a good revenge movie then this needs to be added to your list. It has a little something for everyone. There’s a man righting the wrongs of the legal system in increasingly interesting ways, it has a running theme of dark humor throughout and there’s the underlying mystery of the missing children. The only word of caution I would offer is it gets rather graphic describing and showing the fate of the children but the lead-in gives you time to look away if necessary. Then again, if you’re a grizzled genre fan like myself then that might not be an issue. 

Walden is currently in select theaters and will hit VOD December 12th.