For Hannah follows a familiar plot: A local couple in a rural, snowy village is accosted on Christmas Eve by a desperate man with a gun who needs to hide from the law. Chance (Shannon Brown) is on the run, having robbed a bank. His motives for doing so are mysterious, but his snub-nosed revolver tells Frank (Ric Morgan) and his wife, Emma (Carla Abruzzo), they should let him inside lest they face the consequences. Soon the three are engaged in a yuletide triangle of lies and deceit. See, Frank has secrets of his own and he’s not exactly a stellar husband — which isn’t something Chance can abide by, even if he’s the one asking all the favors.
Director John Wesley Norton (who penned the script with a story by Brown) does a pretty good job setting up his story but has some trouble keeping it on target once the action takes off. His setting of snowy Pine Lake is gorgeously shot. Despite the fact that most of the story takes place in houses and on sets, he really uses his environment to create a sense of isolation and tension among the main trio.
Unfortunately, the film, which runs close to two hours, has a B-plot about Cooper (Bruce Spielbauer), the local sheriff investigating Chance’s bank robbery. He’s just eight days from retirement and has had enough of all this crap, particularly so close to Christmas. His deputy, Gale (Suzette Brown), is driven by ambition and a desire to live up to her boss’s legacy if she’s able to assume his authority. Their story eventually and violently dovetails with the main plot inside Frank and Emma’s home, but for the most part it feels like wheels spinning. We learn everything we need to know about Chance through his own conversations with Emma as the two grow closer, and there’s a goofiness to the law enforcement material that doesn’t quite mesh.
Much of For Hannah is just Emma, Chance and Frank working out their situation. Chance wants to escape the law; Emma wants to escape Frank; Frank wants to escape the zip-ties Chance has applied to his arms and legs. It’s fairly engaging, if not a bit circular, as their predicament deepens. Although I became frustrated, the ending really does have some satisfying twists and turns to have made it a successful piece of independent filmmaking.