I always thought keno was a kind of bingo-like game. Never knew it could involve pool. You learn something new every day. Tom Schulman’s (8 Heads in a Duffle Bag) film is in the style of Southern gothic (I believe, in some parts, that is even the title of the film) involving keno, a couple of bad people, a loveable teenage boy with one eye, a rundown Southern mansion, an old grudge, a hot young woman who plays pool, and high stakes keno. Lots of elements to this dark film that always seems to have something going on under its surface.
From the day an attractive young woman pulls up to a rundown plantation house, her life begins to change. And not always for the better. Diana (Lili Simmons – from television’s Banshee), a hot pool player, arrives at a house owned by Nick (Kim Coates – from television’s Sons of Anarchy) as she has heard that you can play high-stakes keno there. She has never played keno but is looking to learn. Seems desperate to make some money. Doubtful in the beginning, Nick begins to see the potential in the street smart Diana.
Diana is moved into a tiny run down house on the property which she will share with rats and her training begins right away. She works on her game all day and night under the supervision of a one-eyed teenage boy they call Little Nick (Igby Rigney – Fast & Furious 9, Good Joe Bell). Little Nick and Diana become close. He is the only one she seems to trust fully. For good reason, as Nick is not a good man. Despite the danger, Diana seems willing to go to any lengths to get the money she seems to need.
Diana gets good enough that Nick begins to stake her in games. She wins. That is until she comes up against keno legend Beaumont DuBinion (Justin Marcel McManus – appeared in episodes of Blue Bloods and Star). DuBinion is a man that Nick holds a grudge against due to a game that happened years ago. Nick wants revenge and will go to any length, including using Diana, to get it.
Lili Simmons is perfectly cast as the nerves of steel young woman. Believable in all situations whether she is fast talking, playing keno or using her looks to get a leg up on a man. She along with Coates, Rigney and McManus really draw you into the story as the film goes on. You know there is something more than what you are being shown as every character seems to have secrets they are hiding. The intrigue grows as the film advances.
Twist and turns with the right level of intelligence result in a film that will draw you in.
The screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival was the film’s world premiere.