Dawn’s life is changed when her deadbeat mother is shot dead in a bar parking lot, which prompts the state to assign her custody to her aunt and uncle until she can finish high school. Despite her loss, things are looking up for her as she is moved to a better area. However, it doesn’t take long for Dawn to discover that there are just as many hidden problems in suburbia as there are obvious problems on the streets. Fearing for her safety, Dawn leaves her new home to take up residence on the streets once again. Moreover, she soon finds herself in trouble again, and only her aunt believes that she is worth the fight.
Production Quality (2 points)
For a very small budget, Undeserved sports a lot of good production qualities, including good camera work, video quality, and audio quality. The soundtrack is also creative, even though it tends to be a bit too loud at times. Sometimes, camera work is randomly shaky, and sometimes scenes are too dark and poorly lit. However, these issues are not completely noticeable, even if the flashback quality is bit odd. The editing is average overall, and these factors are enough to make this an above-average production, which is a great start for a new film maker with such a limited budget.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Undeserved is definitely not afraid to take on difficult but unfortunately realistic issues within the white suburban church demographic. Though there is some obvious and expository dialogue throughout, the storyline is intriguing due to its non-typical structure. For the most part, the story unfolds in a realistic manner with a natural progression of time, even though there are some slight coincidences that help the plot along. The character are fairly well-developed even though the dialogue could be constructed a bit better. Sometimes it seems like the main characters are victimized too much, but there are plenty of good attempts to develop character motive and personality through conversations and flashbacks. However, there are a few too many montages, and issues appear to be fixed too easily in the end. There are quite a few things tacked onto the end of the film, as if time ran out, which suggests that this idea might have worked better as a series. However, this plot is overall average.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Though this cast is mostly inexperienced and ‘amateur,’ they appear to be professional in their performances. There is definitely evidence of coaching, and although there are some slightly forced emotions and some moments that are partially underwhelming and awkward. However, there is far more good here than bad, and this is only amplified by the fact that the cast does not have ‘big names’ in it. In summary, this rounds out a very good first film effort.
It’s hard to get the necessary funding for a first-time small church film, so the best thing a film maker can do is craft a good plot, coaching cast members well, and get the film out there. This creative team made efforts on all three of these fronts, and for the most part, the efforts paid off. One can hardly do better than this with a less than $50,000 budget except perhaps forge a more captivating storyline. In the end, a film like Undeserved is all we really ask of freshman creators, so it will be interesting to see what this team produces next.
Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points