“Strategy and Pursuit” is a drama-filled thriller about a group of friends who meetup at a summer home after a devastating event, which had occurred to one of them regarding a mother committing suicide. I don’t want to go too much into detail about the events that unfold in fear that it would spoil too much, but this gets damn intense at parts and had me holding my breath.

I will say every character stands out and they are well-written. Each one had a voice that didn’t seem to blend with one another and each one had a speech pattern that was recognizable. They were distinct and they were unique. For me, these characters felt like they could really exist, because they were all so flawed in some way, and that alone pulled me into the story the more I got to know them. They were interesting.

Another thing that pulled me into the story was how beautifully shot this was. Each scene was lit extremely well and the depth of field really drew in the characters. They had a variety of shots to choose from (so it seems) and the amount of depth in each shot said something about that character subjectively in one way or another. Even when things get heated, the camera somehow manages to stay in focus and help draw us, the audience, more into what was unfolding before them.

Of course the editing has to go hand in hand with the shot selection and boy was it smooth! The whole motion in this film felt fluid. It made me feel like I was observing these people from afar and witnessing a dramatic feud that was rather entertaining. I mean, who doesn’t like to watch drama unravel when you’re at a get together? Sometimes it may be awkward, which for some of these characters it definitely was, but most of the time you want to sit back and see where it goes. That’s exactly what happened with me while watching this. Each cut was timed just right and each cut helped raise the stakes as well as bring out the characters even more by showing just their reactions. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. The editing shows exactly that.

The acting for all the characters was never too dramatic or unbelievable. They all brought their characters to life and really, and I mean really, owned up to their parts. Each one fit their role and I’m struggling to picture if any other actor could fulfill their roles, so I suppose that’s a round of applause for the casting department.

I only have two minor issues with the film: the score and some of the dialogue seemed a bit too expositional towards the end. When the score suddenly turns to a classic noir feel it took some time getting used too. With the lighting and the editing, I was expecting something more of a synth-based score that was slow and steady, because those are usually darker and can really help intensify a scene. The noir style felt a little out of place, but as soon as cops are introduced in the film, I thought the noir vibe fit. And regarding the exposition, the cops had some lines that made me roll my eyes with how on the nose it was. Thankfully it didn’t last long and didn’t take me too much out of the film.

That being said, director Matt Riddlehoover did an excellent job at capturing the tension between characters and pulling off some rather complex dynamics regarding the setting, lighting, and the acting all together. This film reminded me a lot of the game “Clue” because of how many characters are involved and how intense it got at some points.