2019’s Worst Thriller?

The year’s most bland and devastatingly banal “thriller” comes courtesy of Robert Shaye, producer of the horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street. Going behind the camera, Shaye directs the deadly dull Ambition with a fresh-faced cast of nobodiesSometimes a movie is so bad, it can actually be entertaining. This is not the case with the creatively challenged Ambition.

Lacking any sense of tension, the sluggish thriller is a pointless drama lacking real juice. There’s more college-age melodrama than actual suspense in Ambition’s flimsy scenario. An ambitious violinist, driven to succeed in her immensely competitive field, deals with the troubling death of the school’s former violinist.

Whatever entertainment gets mined from the collegiate melodrama early on is undermined by a series of inane plot twists, and a forgettable script fit for Lifetime. The lackluster thriller’s cast stars an unknown roster that includes Katherine Hughes, Giles Matthey, Sonoya Mizuno and Dylan McNamara.

Lin Shaye of Insidious makes one of the most pointless and random cameo appearances in recent memory. I’m still not sure what was the point of her appearance in the movie beyond promotional purposes.

Katherine Hughes stars as Jude Hunter, a violinist preparing for an important audition at her music conservatory. She lives with Veronica and Sarah off campus, living the care-free existence of college-age students with few responsibilities. The roommates are more concerned about dating than work.

Ambition’s utterly lame and shockingly poor final act is a real doozy

Jude herself is a hard worker that can’t seem to match the lofty talents of the school’s former #1 violionist, Emily Foster. Emily mysteriously died falling off a building and Jude wants to fill the vacant top spot left behind.

Jude has a boyfriend she rarely sees in Ben, beyond distant video chats over the net. A sketchy, drug-dealing neighbor Steve has a thing for Jude. The hard-working violinist is more interested in Steve’s new roommate, Dave. With his British accent and skill with the guitar, the mysterious newcomer makes his own moves on Jude.

The problem with Ambition beyond its lack of thrills is a serious lack of imagination. The script relies heavily on characters quoting famous movie lines, everything from Goodfellas to Airplane, for conversation. It’s a stretch even for a film to have all these generic characters spouting classic lines from better movies. College kids don’t go around randomly quoting classic lines with each other.

If you aren’t bored to death by the end of the second act, Ambition’s utterly lame and shockingly poor final act is a real doozy. Whatever goodwill generated early on disappears with a shockingly derivative and generic series of twists that will leave one wondering why they wasted ninety minutes of their life watching Ambition. Avoid at all costs and save yourself the time.


Ambition arrives on BD looking like many other direct-to-video thrillers and dramas these days. The perfectly respectable 1080P presentation in the movie’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio has been struck from a digital intermediate. Outside of some questionable lighting choices, especially in a few of the darker interiors, picture quality is serviceable for this kind of low-budget fare. Shadow delineation wavers in select scenes.

Shout Factory provides a clean AVC encode of the 87-minute main feature. Somehow this terrible direct-to-video movie gets a BD-50 despite no extra features. The middling detail appears to have been a conscious aesthetic choice as clarity remains solid.


A fairly ordinary 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is offered with average sound design and separation, offering light immersion. Dialogue is cleanly intelligible. The violin and guitar music are heard in fine fidelity. The dramatic underscore is effective but perfectly generic.

A secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA option is included. Optional English SDH subs play in a white font, inside the scope presentation at all times.


No special features beyond the movie’s trailer. A slipcover is available.

Ambition Trailer (01:23 in HD)

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A generically poor “thriller” that ends up wasting your time with dumb twists and a boring screenplay. Skip Ambition completely.

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