A young woman (Kimberly-Sue Murray, TV’s ‘V-Wars’) sits in a dreary basement with a computer and a headset and cold calls senior citizen Mr. Washington (voice of Art Hindle), asking him if he’s misplaced a credit card as she’s noted suspicious charges. Wheedling him out of all the pertinent information with a singsong voice, she helpfully offers to reorder any prescriptions he might have directly from his bank account while a new card is being processed. The scam artist is successful, but she doesn’t begin to soar until she gets hooked on becoming a “Trader.”
Laura's Review: B-
This ultra low budget Canadian production is clearly a labor of love from writer/director/editor/composer Corey Stanton, whose Doctorate in medicine was pushed aside in favor of dreams of filmmaking. It is a shame he couldn’t procure more robust backing for this, his second feature, as his slick, twisty script and Murray’s compelling lead performance are undermined by increasingly annoying visual tricks meant to distract from its single, dismal location.
After getting her hands on a type of ‘stock market for dummies’ that explains a bull market as looking for profits, or green, and a bear market one anticipating failure, or red, colors which will be used continuously thereafter, our sociopathic scam artist calls the book’s author, Emily Ross (voice of Janet Porter), inquiring about short term investments and gets an earful about the obsessive, lonely life of day traders and an overdependence on luck. No problem for our heroine, who snorts wasabi, downs energy drinks and an assortment of drugs and immediately puts herself in a training program which finds her progressing from a LOSER to a WINNER, words she scribbles across easel pads with brightly colored markers. She then creates an online persona named daisydaytrader with a minimally altered picture of a come-on blonde and reels in tipster Bob the Broker (voice of Shaun Benson) with sexual innuendo and her sharp mind. He’ll give her the most important piece of advice she’ll ever need, that that market ‘runs on fear and greed and hype’ and to ‘not believe the hype, but create it yourself.’
The lengths our trader will go to are truly shocking and would have been all the more impactful had they been depicted on screen. Instead Stanton conflates green and red filters with good and evil, the trader praying for some truly horrific outcomes, first with a cancer drug, then manipulating the surviving relatives of a PTSD afflicted veteran shot to death by police for his jaw-dropping climax. Cinematographer Carl Elster tries to maintain our attention by using all kinds of devices – multiple instances of Murray in the same frame, exaggerated lighting effects, close-ups of computer screens, multiple exposures and sped up action – while Stanton has Murray dance as she applies red and green body paint. While most of this calls attention to the film’s low budget, some ideas are more inspired. Stanton underscores Ross’s luck warning with an act of God, then uses ‘Dies Irae’ while Murray vomits the strings of wasabi she’s snorted, a scene which would have been funnier set to ‘Tubular Bells,’ but nonetheless carries forward the filmmaker’s satanic motif.
Murray utilizes a variety of voices customized to her audience, morphing from the lean waif-like woman we first meet to the polished corporate trader she creates clawing over dead bodies. The film just can’t overcome its amateurish production. “Trader” could have been a hit with the right producer, but still may get notice as a minor cult item.
Robin's Review: B
A woman (Kimberly-Sue Murray) sits in her stark basement apartment talking on the phone. She is scamming yet another lucrative victim who willingly gives his credit card info to the “company representative.” Then, she discovers the concept of day trading on the stock market and soon throws herself whole heartedly into conquering that world as a “Trader.”
Sophomore feature film helmer Corey Stanton, utilizes a sparse, basement set and the onscreen talent of a single actor and, essentially, gives us a couple of procedural examinations into the art of credit card scamming, in a precise, no-nonsense way, and day trading. Both of which I am very naïve about – I never give personal information and I do not do the stock market – so the story gives me an interesting insight into those strange worlds of money making.
Kimberly Sue Murray holds the screen and your attention for the film’s 84-minute run time. There is a solid arc to her character as she moves from the world of credit card scamming to the intense world of high pressure stock trading.
But, there is more to the story than a couple of technical procedurals. There is also a psychological element as she also draws in others (only in voice) who seem to be kindred spirits to trading. There is a darker element though with “Big Brother” watching always on the fringes. Something wicked this way comes.
The lady’s obsession creates a downward spiral, the trap of the day trader, as she gets advice and encouragement from another “trader” named Bob, who claims to play with the “big boys” of stock trading. This benign relationship will sour as other factors come into play, like drugs to keep you going as you spend day and night online.
“Trader” is about addiction and with our main character we see the ravages and revivals that take place in the lady’s fully developed character arc. The person we start out with morphs into another person altogether. It is a fine job by Murray in front of the camera and Stanton behind it. What could they do with a bigger budget?
XYZ Films releases "Trader" on VOD on 8/10/23.