Ramsey: The Vandy Case Review

Who doesn't love a good crime movie? They give us all the drama and thrills we could ever want as viewers. If you're looking for a new one to sink your teeth into, you could do much worse than the indie offering Ramsey: The Vandy Case.

Directed by Tom Ryan, it stars Jim Thalman as the eponymous Kevin Ramsey.

What's The Plot?

Ramsey is a private investigator, a divorcee, a father, and a former New York City police officer. Grizzled and no-nonsense, he lost his job in the force for speaking out against a colleague who had beaten his wife, and his former colleagues now see him as a rat.

In this movie, he gets hired by a woman called Michaela Vandy (Jeanine Bartel) to investigate the murder of her sister, Sarah (Katie Ann Vaccarelli). Sarah was a former TV star and wild child who had become a cop and was brutally murdered with a single bullet to her forehead while she was on the beat in Brooklyn.

Michaela brings Ramsey in on the case as she thinks he'll want to get one over his ex-colleagues and is, therefore, the most likely man to get answers before they do. Doing so would enable her to hide any secrets her sister might have been hiding before she died.

She also suggests a trio of potential suspects; club owner Brandon Simms (Derek Michalak), bodyguard Corey Sandford (Shabaya Clark), and police rookie James Loomis (B. Todd Johnston). They all have a history with Sarah and a murder motive, having all experienced rejection at her expense in one way or another.

Ramsey – who believes the killer is someone who hates the police – brings his friend Mason Rivers (Nixon Cesar) in on the investigation. Mason also happens to be the group leader of his Sex Addicts Anonymous group. Rivers' introduction is the catalyst for an array of other colorful characters to enter the fray, including a chillingly angry anti-white reverend (Richard E. Waits).

The investigation is far from smooth sailing for Ramsey, as personal issues, jealousy, and the NYPD threatening to lock him up all interfere, but it all makes for an exciting watch.

Is It Any Good?

Ramsey: The Vandy Case is a compelling neo-noir with a committed cast. Thalman plays an excellent lead, while the sultry Bartel and the poised Cesar offer capable support.

Thalman portrays Ramsey as a surprisingly likable character to who many people will relate. His problems and mental health issues will hit home with countless people who watch the movie, and he's someone you root for throughout the film.

From the movie's beginning, Ramsey tells its story in the aftermath of the events we watch playing out. He's sat in a police meeting room, drinking a coffee, covered in blood, essentially narrating. It's classic noir.

Bartel's Michaela is brilliant. Her somewhat inappropriate flirtatious behavior amid her grief is quite unsettling, but it also means you can't look away from her performance.

Cesar's Rivers offers a cool, calm head in the middle of it all. His performance feels as accomplished as any actor could have given in his role. He's had his problems, but he seems to have come out successfully on the other side and appears to be someone we can all admire.

There are undoubtedly some less-than-stellar, and therefore jarring, performances from some extended cast members, but they're all weird and wonderful in their way, and each offers something to the movie.

The film plays out like a particularly compelling extended episode of a sophisticated detective television series – and given the quality of that genre of TV in this day and age, that's hugely complimentary.

The cinematography is a triumph. In some scenes, the camera's focus is randomly lost, which works as a method of presenting the confusion and disconcertion of certain characters.

The use of light and shadow also plays a significant part in setting the movie's mood. Most scenes are in low light, brilliantly representing the darkness the movie's characters feel at that moment.

It's also worth mentioning the movie's music. It sets the tone perfectly in any given scene, whether it requires tension, mystery, threat, or otherwise.

An Excellent Twist

The best thing about Ramsey: The Vandy Case is, arguably, its twist. You won't see it coming, and you'll undoubtedly be surprised when it arrives. Not only will the perpetrator of the murder shock you, but the people indirectly to blame for it will also.

At its core, this movie is a cautionary tale about addiction's effects on addicts and the people around them. That will hit home hard with some viewers and, hopefully, resonate to the point of helping them make better decisions. Any film that can do that and provide entertainment is worth watching in our book.

Rating: 7.5/10 SPECS.

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