While it may not be for you, you should still support Canadian films.
Synopsis: At a remote beach house, a single mother struggles to keep her infant son safe from the influence of an otherworldly presence. (CUT/OFF/TAIL Pictures)
Starring: Danika Vandersteen, Woodrow Graves, and Terrance Murray
Writer: Darcy Spidle
Director: Seth A. Smith
Rating: 14A (Canada)
Running Time: 99mins
It is worth saying that this film will certainly not be for everyone. Diehard fans of arthouse and horror films should find plenty of enjoy but their naturally divisive nature will surely alienate viewers. While this film’s willingness to do something different is admirable, it simply didn’t work here. The story was more on the simple side, however, the direction (or directions) it takes will lose people (it lost me). The film was about a single mother named Beth (Vandersteen) and her infant son Lowen (Graves) who both succumb to a mysterious force while visiting a remote beach house.
What else was going to happen? The film did an excellent job at alluding that there may be something more going on thanks to some excellent camera work and a suspenseful score. It was clear that something was going to happen, however, some will be disappointed at the speed in which it does. This is a slow-moving film with very little in terms of action for the majority of the running time. The short running time, clocking in at just over 90 minutes, only exacerbates this. Because Beth is a painter, the film offers plenty of trippy imagery which made this more of an arthouse film. While they were nice at first, they became repetitive as the film went on and didn’t add much to the plot.
The main problem with the film, however, was its convoluted story. Despite the simple premise, there was still a lot going on here which made it hard to follow. Without giving too much away plot wise, a large disconnect was created with whatever was happening on screen because it was hard to care about it. This is not good thing to have in most films but it is even worse for horror films. In order to get the full effect of a horror film’s scares, we have to connect with the characters who are experiencing said scares. Though the scares here were few and far between, this was the case here.
The best part of the film was the performances of Vandersteen and Graves as Beth and Lowen respectively. The mother and son relationship in the film was compelling to watch and made it bearable for the most part despite the slow burn. Vandersteen’s performance reflected the slow burn as she got better as the film went on, showing some range while going from subdued, to vulnerable, and to strong. Most young actors tend to be on the annoying side, however, Graves surpassed those expectations by delivering a very genuine performance as any kid under those circumstances. A sequence later on in the film gave him a chance to shine and he did not disappoint.
Overall, this was a surprisingly well-crafted indie film with plenty of moments of genuine suspense but whose convoluted story and overactive imagery create a disconnect that will be difficult to overcome for some.