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Nic Cage's "Grand Isle" falls short of the Southern Gothic crazy it promises

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04.12.2019

“Grand Isle,” Nicolas Cage’s sixth film this year, opens with shots of dense fog, trees, and a big Louisiana house, cueing viewers that they are entering Southern Gothic territory. And one might think Cage playing a Vietnam Vet with a drinking problem — as he does here — would generate some of his beloved manic scenery chewing. But director Stephen S. Campanelli, never allows Cage to quite go as batshit crazy as his fans want. In fact, Cage seems to be especially lazy; he doesn’t even seem to be consistent with his accent. (In contrast, the hammy Kelsey Grammer, who plays a detective in the film, sport a Southern twang as thick as the aforementioned fog, it is as if he were auditioning for Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”)

This sloppy, low-budget thriller never quite makes its hothouse atmosphere palpable, but it has a serviceable plot that allows for some guilty pleasures.

It is 1988, and Walter (Cage) is awakened by the sound of a burglar in the middle of the night. Keeping a gun and slippers by his bed, he stands his ground and shoots at the intruder, who crashes through his white picket fence. When the drunk, disheveled, cigar-chewing Walter hires Buddy (Luke Benward), a broke father of a sick infant, to repair the fence, Buddy agrees. If he completes the job before the hurricane that’s a-coming, Buddy will be paid extra. (And yes, several people question why one would fix the fence before the storm).

Buddy works up a bit of a sweat mending that there fence, so it’s is a welcome relief that Fancy (KaDee Strickland), Walter’s hot young wife, offers him a cool, refreshing glass of ice........

© Salon