|A boys will be boys weekend camping trip where one of them winds up dead before the first dawn. Who Killed Cooper Dunn? is an indie drama/mystery/thriller, forcing the boys to question each other but things tend to go off the rails before we get any answers. It’s an interesting premise and a setting which suits the budget and genre, making it an interesting watch if not a fully satisfying one.||2022 |
Directed by: Nino Aldi
Screenplay by: Joseph Rein, Nino Aldi
Starring: Tyler Ritter, Paul Elia, Nino Aldi,
Travis Quentin Young, and Eric Michael Roy
Dawson is on the verge of divorce and has called his old high school buddies together to have a reunion deep in the wilderness. Just a bunch of six grown men, beer, campfires, tents, trees and a river; no girls, no lawyers. It’s a weekend to forget about life. The friends include Will who always finds a chance to remind his friends that he’s a doctor, a foot doctor as they call him, so he settles on podiatrist – “it’s still a doctor” he says, more than once; Ritchie is a veteran from the Afghanistan war, and the friends all assume he’s suffering from PTSD, but don’t tend to say much, especially his best friend Jack. Jack, like Dawson, appears to be very even-keeled, a ”let’s just keep the gang together” type of glue. This leaves Leech who decided the friend group needed more fun and invites three druggies from high school to join them; and then there's Cooper. Cooper is the friend who ran off to Hollywood became C-list successful and spends all his time bragging about his conquests and the notches in his bedpost.
After a night of drugs and partying, Dawson finds Cooper dead, the three druggies gone, and the five of them are left to point fingers and decide what to do. There’s the sane fraction who want to just go to the cops and tell them what they know. The other fraction has concluded his death wasn’t accidental but murder so one of them must be guilty and they should figure out which one it is instead of letting the cops label all of them as guilty.
Finger pointing in a circle full of testosterone quickly leads to violence instead of useful discussion. The film definitely takes things farther than would seem necessary based on the premise. When they start questioning which one of them is capable of murder it turns out the easy answer is all of them are.
The setting lends the film multiple interesting vantage points to tell this story and a lot of really nice cinematography throughout the entire run time. It’s a nice watch even if the toxic men take things too far too often. There are a few clues laid out at the beginning of the film, and all of them end up playing a role in the conclusion, but there’s enough action that you’re not really thinking about things you learned earlier.
Who Killed Cooper Dunn? has more turning points found in a thriller than what would be expected for a dialogue-based drama, and the genre mixing works well. It is an interesting story but things definitely go off the rails.