When her car breaks down on the way to a track meet, sprinter Reagan Farrow (Murray Gray) gets a lift from two strangers who turn out to be cannibalistic serial killers.
“Unsullied” screenwriter John Nodilo ameliorates an otherwise generic cat-and-mouse thriller with unusually thoughtful expositions. Reagan is grieving the loss of the older sister, Kim (Nicole Paris Williams), who trained her. Flashbacks to Kim’s motivating words help Reagan push through her desperate hours.
Her abductors, Noah (Rusty Joiner) and Mason (James Gaudioso), prove equally complex. These Southerners aren’t your stereotypical rednecks. Having struck it rich as wolves of Wall Street, these American psychos are beloved patrons and generous tippers in the desolate town they regularly visit on “hunting” trips. Although Noah and Mason seem indiscriminate when it comes to picking their female prey, the fact that Reagan is black and hounded by their dogs conjures the South’s troubled legacy.
“Unsullied”? “Unrelenting” is more like it. This nasty low-budget thriller, the first feature directed by the former N.F.L. defensive end Simeon Rice, tells a story rife with implausibilities. But it does have a few redeeming aspects, including a hardy newcomer, the actress Murray Gray, as Reagan, a competitive runner with the misfortune of having her car break down in a remote Florida backwater. It’s Reagan’s further bad luck to encounter two wealthy, hunky, smooth-talking brothers (James Gaudioso and Rusty Joiner) with a big estate and a penchant for kidnapping and rape.
Though Reagan, as played by Ms. Gray, seems far too smart to fall for her captors’ ruse, she does. But before you know it, she’s off: escaping from their house and running through forests, diving into lakes and swimming across ponds, the men in constant pursuit. Though she has a contrived back story (about her vanished sister, who always encouraged her athletic aspirations), she fortunately doesn’t have — and doesn’t miss — a boyfriend (“Right now, I’m just focused on me”).
During his 12-year NFL career, Simeon Rice made three Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. His 122 sacks are the 17th most in league history, and, along with Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, he helped turn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense into one of the most formidable units in football.
But, apparently, all he really wanted to do was direct.
In the eight years since he last played in the NFL, Rice has graduated from the New York Film Academy and made tentative strides in the world of independent filmmaking. Now, he’s preparing to release his feature debut, Unsullied, a survival-horror film he wrote, directed and largely financed. But for a guy who spent a dozen years dominating the cutthroat world of pro football, making the transition to the movie biz has proven to be a lot tougher than bringing down a quarterback.
NEW YORK – It had been six years since his final NFL game, but for 21 days last fall, former three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Simeon Rice was back leading a team in Tampa.
Rice, who spent six of his 12 pro seasons with the Buccaneers, was no longer chasing quarterbacks but instead a new passion for filmmaking. So for three weeks in November 2013, he gathered a cast and crew together in Seminole, Fla. and began shooting Unsullied, a thriller he both wrote and directed.
Rice started to develop an interest in film while he was playing and in 2009, decided to enroll in the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles to learn how to be a proper moviemaker.
Former NFL defensive end, Simeon Rice is a filmmaker now. Did you know? I certainly didn’t.
I also wasn’t aware that, after his football career ended in 2009, he went on to graduate from the New York Film Academy (where he attended the 4-week and 8-week workshops), and has since directed 3 films – 1 short and 2 features, all indies. He seems to love *genre* films, with his most recent work, titled Unsullied, a thriller, set for release in 2015. It’s currently in post-production.
Simeon Rice is used to seeing his work on the big screen. In his former career as an NFL linebacker, it was his fearsome play on the stadium jumbotron. Today, it is his work as a motion picture director.
At the American Film Market, which runs Nov. 5-12 in Santa Monica, Rice will be promoting his first feature-length motion picture, an action thriller titled, Unsullied. A market screening is scheduled for 11 a.m. PT on Sat., Nov. 8 at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica.