Summary: Death in the Desert is a love triangle set in the fast-paced, sometimes lonely world of Las Vegas. The life of Kim Davis, the young live-in girlfriend of legendary casino owner Ray Easler, is thrown upside down when she falls for Matt Duvall, the man Ray hires to bury his $20 million fortune of silver on the floor of the Nevada desert
The movie centers around stripper Kim Davis. One day at work she draws the attention of Ray Easler. Ray is a big name in Vegas where his family runs a casino. Ray is married but in the midst of going through a divorce. He starts seeing Kim on the side. Then, as it does in all movies like this, Ray falls for Kim and gets jealous of her job. He gets her to give up stripping and move in with him. Things start off great. Ray opens up Kim to things she had never thought to experience before. He took her out to a ranch his family owned, bought her a horse. However Ray's drug use gets out of hand and starts unwinding things. His drug usage is no secret and it's tarnishing his name in Vegas; so much so that his family is trying to squeeze him out of their fortune. Because of that, Ray comes up with a plan to smuggle his inheritance of silver out of Vegas and bury it in the desert. To do this, he hires Matt, a man that is introduced a few times throughout the movie before he becomes a big part of it. Ray's narration during the movie introduces Matt as a guy who wants to sleep with Kim, so why that's the guy Ray would hire is beyond me but Ray also described him as a “good kid” so I'm guessing he assumed Matt wouldn't act on that desire. Now Kim gives Matt the cold shoulder every time she sees him through the whole movie. That is, until the night Matt comes to visit Ray and Kim. Kim is outside and I'm assuming Ray is asleep in the house. Matt goes outside to talk to Kim and she basically throws herself at him. From there on out, their affair continues throughout the remainder of the movie.
Now there is some deception in the summary of this movie. It is not the typical love triangle you see in movies. For starters, the affair didn't begin until about 2/3 of the way through the movie so there was a lot of build up to something that didn't take up much of the screen time. Also, I'm not sure if he was naive and really didn't know or if he just didn't care but Ray seemed to have no clue what was going on between Kim and Matt. Kim and Matt's affair was possibly the most open affair I have ever seen. Kim would bring lunch to Matt and the rest of the guys burying the silver, then her and Matt would walk off together. They went on dates in public, they would make out in night clubs, before going somewhere to get more intimate. In this day and age, there is no way this could have went on without it being all over the place.
This was a very slow paced movie that had to many plot points for it's own good. It's not that the plot points were bad but when there are to many stories going on, it is hard to get full closure on all of them. Some of them seemed to just die of and not come to any real fruition. I wouldn't necessarily say it was a bad movie. I did enjoy it. It just wasn't an exciting movie to watch. There was no event(s) in the movie to really draw the viewer's attention and really suck them in.
Now I am a huge Michael Madsen fan, probably the reason I volunteered to review this movie. His performance in this is exactly what you would expect it to be. I feel like he was a great casting choice to play Ray. Majority of Madsen's characters are portrayed the same and Ray is no different. I actually felt bad for his character, which I don't think was the intention of the movie because he is generally not a good guy. But he was a man whose dad ran Vegas. He was basically to be the king of of Vegas and he treats life as such. As he starts losing everything, he really starts spiraling out and you begin to see how vulnerable the man is. Shayla Beesley as Kim was a character choice that I really did enjoy. Okay, she's hot, but besides that, I think she did a pretty solid job. This role isn't going to land her any best actress nominations or anything but she did what she needed to do. Her character goes through the most development throughout the movie. She starts as an unhappy stripper to a “side piece” to a live in girlfriend. You can see her going from loving Ray, to physically breaking down because of drug use and seeking comfort in Matt's arms. I don't have a lot of knowledge about her previous acting career but she is an actress that I would keep an eye on.
John Palladino as Matt is a bit harder to critique. The character itself, I wasn't a huge fan of. I'm not even sure why but he just rubbed me the wrong way. I can't really pin that on Palladino though because he had a very minimal amount of screen time. I would go so far as to say extremely minimal since his character is suppose to be one of the main characters and involved in the main story of the movie. Come to think of it, part of what rubbed me the wrong way could have been that he was such a huge part in the story and we didn't see his character enough to be able to like him. Had he had a bigger role with some more development, the viewer could have really formed a bond with the character which would have helped us understand where his mindset was. But we didn't get to know him so from our end, he was a man who was hired to do a job and betrayed his employer but sleeping with his girlfriend.
Like I stated earlier, despite all my nitpicking, this really wasn't a bad movie. It may not have been what I expected, and I feel like it could have done a lot more but I did enjoy it. I may not recommend going out of your way to try to find it, but if you did come across this movie, I'd probably suggest giving it a watch.
reviewed by Bobby