Mena Suvari, C. Thomas Howell, Tom Arnold
Directed by Lance Kawas
Monterey Video 2011
If you remember the Mike Hammer Stacey Keach TV series you will recognize the mood in the first third of Restitution. The second half is a more unbalanced in tone. This is a very good low-budget mystery with a solid cast, a very interesting plot, and a director who likes to show off with what he thinks are way cool camera angles. The writing is awkward but not so that you do not enjoy this thriller. The ending is a bit too much but by then what the hell.
Private eye Brian Spykes arrives in Detroit to film a few people perhaps guilty of personal injury insurance fraud. He meets a very cute bartender (Mena Suvari, American Pie, Six Feet Under) and they really hit it off. Somebody spikes Spykes drink (yeah, I know) and he is found dead.
A year later, true crime writer Alex Forrester shows up and starts looking into Spykes disappearance. Forrester s neighbor Tom (Tom Arnold) decides to tag along. It would seem the investigator was also a killer. When Forrester starts digging, bodies start popping up. Tom becomes a very useful neighbor.
Restitution is very quirky but the viewer is almost immediately willing to go along with it.
Much less successful is the recurring bar drunk. Unimpressive is the shot of Forrester moving his finger along a document and then another document so the viewer clues into what the clue is. This is not as bad as Forrester repeating “The son takes over, profits jump” five times in a row in front of a bar graph with a spike.
Restitution being a low budget affair there are a couple of obvious continuity problems such as the time of day in the shot of the first informant on the lake.