A divorced man named Elliot (Joel Kinnaman) tries to reconnect with his two sons, Bradley (Tom Holland) and Caleb (Percy Hynes White), during a hunting trip in the wilderness, but the brothers realize that they might not be able to trust their father when a fierce snowstorm strands all of them in a deserted cabin.
Summer isn’t easy. Most of you are probably facing it now. It’s definitely nice to get an escape every once in awhile and this kind of fit the bill. This is a Canadian film which was nice to see, featuring the likes of Sudbury, Ontario. There’s just something about seeing somewhere you’ve previously been on screen in anything that brings back memories. Now obviously the film takes place during the Winter which plays a big role as a man named Elliot (Kinnaman) and his two sons Bradley (Holland) and Caleb (White) are stranded in the wilderness during a hunting trip.
There’s more to it than that as this trip is not just any trip as divorced Elliot is trying to repair his strained relationship with his sons by trying to reconnecting with them. Elliot isn’t the best father, he’s immature, he got fired from his most recent job, and lives in a one bedroom apartment. Their stepfather Ted (Shaun Benson) has been more of a father to them than Elliot and this leaves him feeling inadequate as Ted is much better off than him.
Things seemingly get better for Elliot as their stranding gives him the opportunity to spend more time with his sons. Their focus, at least at first, was to try and find help but when Elliot learned that Bradley and Caleb were on the verge of moving far away from him, that urgency started to waver. Thinking that he was never going to see them again, their situation began to shift to making the best out of their current predicament. This fact also begins to effect him both emotionally and mentally, making him more overbearing and protective towards his sons while also making him paranoid about his sons being taken away from him.
The film was pretty much about Elliot trying to hold everything together in spite of what was happening around him. He failed at his marriage, he lost his job, but at least he has kids, or at least that’s what he thought. He may still have them for now but they don’t exactly respect him which is almost like not having them. All these things put him over the edge. This progression was compelling to watch and was a great cause of tension as the person who was supposed to care for them was now a threat.
The story was also fun to watch from the kids’ perspective. They were begrudgingly spending time which became more exciting when they got to go hunting. They get stranded but they’re still together, the problem is that they don’t see that their father may be unstable. The signs begin to show once Elliot learns about their moving. They start to see what’s going on but they don’t have a choice because they still love their father. The conflict between doing what was best for themselves and also their father was great to watch as we could still tell that they cared for their father and him for them.
The acting here was great all around, especially Kinnaman. His performance showed a lot of range, going from a loser but still caring father to that of an irrational paranoid caring father.Despite not being the most upstanding character throughout, he found a way to still be likable and you still rooted for him. Holland and Hynes were good too and definitely stood up well to Kinnaman and they had great chemistry which made them great to watch together.
The music was also great at creating tension and suspense. The cinematography consisting of that great Sudbury wilderness was beautiful to look at. What may get to some people is that the plot does have some holes in it. It would have been better if the story and characters were developed a little more but the short running time, clocking in at 89 minutes, constrains this. It is also slow but the film is short anyway.
Overall, this was a beautiful, intense drama with great performances but could have used some more fleshing out.