"Keep Your Distance" has the look of something that you'd see on Showtime late on a Sunday evening, but after a few direct-to-video surprises lately (such as "The I Inside"), I've learned to be better about not judging a direct-to-video flick by its cover. "Distance" stars Gil Bellows ("Ally McBeal") as David Dailey, a Louisville radio host with a chilly marriage to Sarah (Kim Raver, now known for her role on TV's "24").
On his way out of the racetrack, he runs (literally) into Melody (Jennifer Westfeldt, famed for "Kissing Jessica Stein"), who was fleeing the place after saying no to her boyfriend's marriage proposal in front of the entire crowd. The two share something of a connection, but go their own ways. Afterwards, David comes back to their hotel room wanting to surprise his wife, but gets a surprise of his own when he finds her in bed with another woman.
Meanwhile, David has been finding dismaying notes in his car that hint at something to come, and Melody has to contend with her ex's continued advances and the feeling that she's being followed when she's by herself. Are the incidents happening with the two connected?
"Keep Your Distance" finally does get rolling in the second half, but the first hour is fairly slow going. Making the wait somewhat more bearable are decent performances from Bellows and Westfeldt, and the Louisville locations, which act as free promotion for the local tourism board. Still, the script could have been a little more dynamic in the early going, and some of the dialogue is a little too B-grade compared to the rest of the production.
Overall, "Keep Your Distance" is a mixed bag, as its script contains some clunky dialogue and plot points and the whole enterprise takes a little too long to get going. On the other hand, the movie offers some decent performances and fine production values for a smaller drama/thriller.
VIDEO: Monarch Home Video presents "Keep Your Distance" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation looked perfectly average - no better, no worse. Sharpness and detail were acceptable, yet not impressive, as the picture looked fairly crisp, but lacked fine detail and some scenes - especially low-light ones - could look soft or murky.
Some minor edge enhancement also came into view at times, as did some light traces of pixelation. Neither issue proved to be much of a distraction, and the picture otherwise looked pretty clean. Colors also looked fine, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The film's 5.1 soundtrack delivered the audio in respectable fashion, despite being mainly a dialogue-driven feature. Surrounds kick in during some dream sequences and also deliver some mild ambience at times. Audio quality seemed fine, with clear dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: Producer/writer/director Stu Pollard offers a good commentary track about the making of the film, chatting about working with the actors, shooting on location, the story and production issues. We also get a basic 12-minute "behind-the-scenes" doc that is a little better than the usual "promotional" effort, a few minutes of moderately amusing outtakes, a few minutes of deleted scenes likely cut for pacing and finally, an alternate ending that doesn't work as well as the one in the final picture.
Final Thoughts: "Keep Your Distance" was slow going at times, but the picture's performances were pretty decent and production values seemed a bit better than the usual straight-to-vid effort. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a surprising amount of supplements for a small, DTV movie. Fans of the actors may want to try a rental.