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Steven (Carlyle Edwards) is a self-serving, amoral author of very mediocre talent. When he stumbles across a crayon-scribbled missing child poster with a scrawled telephone number and the words HLEPP ME? written on it, he figures it to be harmlessand deciding to base a story around it, he calls the number. This leads to an encounter with Bryant (Goodloe Byron) who flatly claims to have actually kidnapped a girl, stating she will be released only if Steven pays a mere $2000 ransom within two weeks. Steven initially dismisses Bryant as a morbid pranksteruntil Bryant begins a relationship with his only friend, Rene (Helen Bonaparte) and starts popping up in his life in apparently coincidental, yet increasingly invasive and unsettling ways.
Visually inspired by the early films of Bresson, Fassbinder, and Jarmusch, A PUBLIC RANSOM is a slow burn character-study cum psychological-thriller in the spirit of the works of Patricia Highsmith.