Review: Teen auteur Jack Fessenden propels crime drama ‘Stray Bullets’

Jack Fessenden, left, and Asa Spurlock in "Stray Bullets."
(Screen Media Films)

A true family project, the low-budget crime picture “Stray Bullets” was co-produced by indie cinema hero Larry Fessenden with his wife, Beck Underwood, and their son, Jack. The elder Fessenden also handles the cinematography while Underwood is the costumer and production designer.

And Jack? He directs his own screenplay and stars. He’s also the editor, and wrote and performed the score. And by the way … he’s 16 years old.

The auteur’s age, precociousness and pedigree automatically make “Stray Bullets” an item of interest, although fans of the Fessenden clan will be pleased to know that the movie’s also pretty entertaining and only a little bit amateurish.

The younger Fessenden and Asa Spurlock play bored teens who are planning to spend the day in the New York countryside goofing off with a paintball gun, when they find themselves pinned between three mob fugitives (Larry Fessenden, James Le Gros and John Speredakos) and a hit man (Kevin Corrigan). The film has echoes of “Cop Car” and “Mean Streets,” mixing comic juvenilia with earthy violence.


Plenty of first-time feature filmmakers have combined grubby genre kicks with more personal concerns; but there’s a confidence and energy to “Stray Bullets” that compensates for the rather rudimentary, over-familiar story.

Fessenden actually seems to have a point here too, about how a steady bombardment of R-rated media has numbed adolescents like himself. It’ll be fun to see what what he has to say about his generation when he reaches the ripe old age of 20.


‘Stray Bullets’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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