Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 May 22 • Friday

Raw Courage (1984) is a really solid independent thriller, the kind that nobody makes anymore. Well written and intelligently shot and edited with an effective synth score by Johnny Harris, it takes a simple idea, fleshes it out with distinct and believable characters who are given deft and convincing portraits right at the beginning of the movie and just gets the whole job done really well without overdoing it or running longer than it has to.

Three runners set out on a 72-mile marathon in New Mexico. They know each other well and have solid friendships despite being men in different parts of life.

One is twenty-two years old and frustrated at not being able to escape from his father's control or even move out of the house.

Another is in his thirties and on the brink of stepping into a real serious relationship and partnership, for what sounds like it would be the first time, with his girlfriend.

The third is a middle-aged man, married, two kids, haunted by a few anxieties, among them whether he can keep up with the two younger runners.

Once they turn off the highway and head for the mountains, they're surprised and captured by a bunch of survivalists on a training mission, prepping for whatever it is preppers prep for with only knives and basic provisions.

You know the survivalists are bad news because M. Emmet Walsh is the commanding officer.

But at first it isn't a problem. While what the survialists did was basically abusive, they're not really interested in the runners and this could be the end of it, except for the fact that the runners can't stand by and watch these weekend warriors abuse and torture one of their own members.

Things get heated and the runners leave, after lying about their route. Some of the more violent survivalists catch up to them on motorcycles and attack them.

Let's just leave it there. Suffice it to say that after that it becomes a true test of survival. The entire troop is now pursuing the runners to kill them.

It's genuinely tense and suspenseful and the filmmakers make great use of the New Mexico locations.

If you like this kind of thing then I bet you'll enjoy this gem.