A Desperate Hour (aka Lakewood) – Toronto 2021

Naomi Watts in Lakewood. Courtesy of TIFF.

Lakewood is an intense thriller about a mother racing against time to know if her son is okay during an active shooter situation.

(The film was titled as Lakewood upon its world premiere but will be released under A Desperate Hour).

Amy Carr (Naomi Watts), has been a widowed mother of two going on almost a year. It’s a trying time as the one-year anniversary approaches especially with her oldest son, Noah. With Noah still in bed and not leaving for school any time soon, Amy goes off for a routine jog through the woods. Before long, the world changes all around her. At times, it feels like Amy means well but does the wrong thing. She investigates on her own when she should just let the police do their job. But again, you cannot blame her for doing so. She just wants to know if Noah is okay.

Chris Sparling, who pens the film, is the same screenwriter behind last year’s Gerard Butler-starring Greenland. These two films couldn’t be more different. They’re intense in their own ways but this one is even more so and it’s probably because what happens in this film is becoming an all-too-frequent scenario. Greenland just happens to be more of a situation where it’s escapist entertainment. But enough about Greenland, Lakewood is the type of film that will have to you frequently on the edge of the seat.

The pandemic has led to a lot of filmmakers becoming creative with how to approach their films. In some instances, it’s isolation in the country. For others, they use a minimal cast. For Lakewood, it’s a mix of both as Phillip Noyce directs the film in Canada’s North Bay. Naomi Watts carries this from from beginning to end as the film follows her in real time. There are a few scenes where it’s more than just her but mostly, it’s just her jogging through the woods and on the phone. But again, there’s an active shooter situation so this film could prove to be very triggering.

The credits do touch on a recurring situation over these past few years. Schools should be safe for our students. There’s no reason why we have to turn on the news every few months and hear about another school shooting! It is in this way that Lakewood will resonate with many viewers. No parent wants to be the one in Amy’s situation and then to not know if Noah is alive or dead. I was kind of glad to experience this film in my apartment rather than on the big screen because of the stress that comes with watching!

Naomi Watts turns in a strong performance but it’s frustrating that the situations like what we see in Lakewood are events that keep happening.

DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce
SCREENWRITER: Chris Sparling
CAST: Naomi Watts

Lakewood holds its world premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the Gala Presentations program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.