New Streaming Releases: All Hands On - Choke (2020) - Reviewed

Last week saw the release of Gregory Hatanaka's latest indie film on numerous streaming platforms including Amazon Prime. The film which seemed to be billed as a horror film is actually a departure from its own marketing campaign. This really isn't a scary movie, but is instead an artistic independent project that lands firmly with an interwoven story about a detective and a serial killer that cross paths over a young woman. Moving into fetishistic territory with is surreal plot about literal choking, Hatanaka lands one of the best films of his evolving library of films. 

Instead of sticking to standard genre tropes, this newest independent feature from the director behind Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance is more so a dramatic character study than anything based in the world of typical horror fare. Centered on three main characters, each with their own provocative behavioral habits, Choke is a hard one to place, but definitely does its job at interweaving a bevy of strange elements into a truly interesting study of its main players. Hatanaka has dedicated his career to giving his audience a dynamic set of films that run the gamut. This one is his latest boundary pushing movie that seems unfocused in its narrative but does a wholly job at letting his viewership know that nothing is simple here. There is a surrealist element with Choke that you can't quite put your finger on. But when it starts to sink its teeth into the subject matter, audiences will be sold. 

Featuring Shane Ryan as Brandon, a return to his Brandon character from the Amateur Porn Star Killer series, Choke focuses on three main players. This is the first time Ryan has appeared as Brandon since 2009 and he easily slips right back into it. Where this could have simply become another slasher flick or simplistic study of mankind's evil nature, his appearance here is very controlled, showing off how far he's come as an actor and how well he knows his own creation. Taking Brandon in a more reserved direction with very few lines to speak of, Ryan carries most of this film on his own using his time on screen to continue building on his skill set as a leading actor. 

Scott Butler also stars as Robert, a wayward man that is fully vested in his own sexually rampant lifestyle. But the other key figure here is Sarah Brine, a young actress that is quickly building a resume of lower budget indie films. Starring as the teen aged Jeanie/Peyton, she really is a sight to behold. Using her innocent beauty to a calculated effect in cahoots with her obvious dramatic talents, her and Ryan are an interesting pairing for Choke. Together, they turn what could have been just another indie flick that gets glossed over in the Amazon Prime streaming library to a worthwhile watch that has numerous influences helping it along the way. 

If you're a person that needs everything spoon fed to you, Choke might not be your chosen course. But if you're more into mystery and involved character pieces, this is really a great representation of where cinema might be headed in our new reality. Props go to all involved with Choke. With limited resources, Hatanaka and crew have a beautifully shot film release that will do great things for everyone involved.