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The Independent Critic

Gabriel Mann, Eliza Dushku, John Savage, Mark Pellegrino, Michael Welch
Brian Jun
Brian Jun, Robert Dean Klein, Stuart M. Pepper (Story)
Phase 4 Films

 "The Coverup" Review 
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Kevin Thacker (Michael Welch) was a repeat drunk driving offender when picked up one more time by Marshalltown, Iowa police officer Kendall Eldred. A few hours later, Thacker would be found dead in the alley behind the Marshalltown Police Department.

An escaped drunk who fell to his death?

Or murdered?

The police promptly denied any knowledge or responsibility, and an investigation that followed absolved Officer Eldred of any responsibility for Thacker's death.

Attorney Stuart Pepper, who serves as executive producer for this film, isn't convinced and, in fact, is convinced that both the Marshalltown Police Department and the F.B.I. have covered up the truth about Thacker's death and the police department's responsibility for it.

Your ultimate willingness to accept the very pro-Thacker, anti-officer sentiment present in The Coverup may very well influence just how much you appreciate the film. Unquestionably biased towards the young man from a white middle-class Des Moines family, The Coverup was made specifically in the hope that "responsible people in authority will re-open the FBI investigation and convene a federal grand jury," according to the film's website.

It's difficult to review a film such as The Coverup, which is currently available on VOD for Comcast customers and has been an official selection of both the Hollywood Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival along with several others including Iowa's Cedar Rapids Film Festival. While Thacker is the glue that holds the film together, the cinema that unfolds actually centers around a young lawyer (Stuart Pepper) who tries to start off his law career by avoiding cases involving his own morals but ends up fighting like hell for justice for Thacker's family as they seek to bring accountability to the Marshalltown Police Department and the FBI.

While the film's obvious bias occasionally hinders its effectiveness, regardless of which side of the coin you find yourself this is a well made and effective crime drama with a timely and relevant theme and featuring an ensemble cast that is strong across the board. Gabriel Mann embodies Stuart Pepper as an intelligent, passionate man who completely and utterly refuses to give up the fight for what he believes and for what he absolutely knows is just. John Savage and Lee Garlington excel as Kevin's parents, and Michael Welch is solid in what amounts to a supporting appearance as Kevin himself.

Directed by Brian Jun (Steel City), The Coverup at times feels a bit too "movie of the week," but that feeling may just make it the perfect VOD release where you can sit back on your couch and ponder its extensive and weighty issues that may be more difficult to process in a theatrical setting. Alec Puro's original music works quite nicely with the film, while D.P. Ryan Samul keeps the camera work basic but effective. Walter Barnett's production design effectively builds an atmosphere of midwestern mystery, complementing Samul's stark lensing.

For more information on The Coverup and a stunning wealth of information about the case, visit The Coverup website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic