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Arkansas, November 1973 - Frank (Michael Ray Davis) and his grandson, D (Thor Wahlestedt) go on an afternoon hunt. Just before dusk, the two hunters wander into the darkening woods to track down their recent kill and, to their horror, find that instead of a deer, they've shot their trespassing neighbor, Marion Mitchell (Thomas Moore). With a history of land disputes with the Mitchells fresh on Frank's mind, he assures the boy that the only option is to hide the body deep in the woods. As the night draws on, they find themselves only deeper in darkness, and the lines between good and evil are no longer clear. Soon they begin to question if everything will really be okay, Come Morning. Written by
Great haunting tone, but too mundane and ambiguous
Released in 2012, "Come Morning" is a backwoods drama/mystery about a grandfather and grandson (Michael Ray Davis & Thor Wahlestedt) and their misadventures when taking a hunting trip in backwoods Arkansas. The screenplay focuses on the downside of masculinity, rural property disputes and death.
The story evidently takes place in 1973, which I didn't know until after watching the movie because country folk today generally wear the same kinds of clothes as they did back then and drive similar old trucks, etc. In other words, there's no observable reason it couldn't take place in modern times. Another minor issue is the way the story switches to flashbacks without indicating it to the viewer. Of course I was able to gather that it was a flashback, but why not use an appropriate device to indicate this to the audience?
Regardless, the movie has a great haunting ambiance with a quality score, excellent woodsy photography and good actors, all reminiscent of the haunting rural atmospherics of films like 2010's "Winter's Bone," 2008's "Frozen River" and 2006' "That Beautiful Somewhere." It's the least of these, however, no doubt because of the $46,000 budget, which resulted in too many holes in an already ambiguous story. Moreover, while the plot's fine, the script is too mundane and fails to create a compelling experience.
My wife and I watched the movie separately yesterday and neither of us could figure it out. The story provokes questions, but the ending fails to deliver the answers. We're not the types who need to be "spoon fed" answers. In fact, we enjoy figuring movies out and usually can; see my review of 2001's "Wendigo" for evidence. Unfortunately, too much of "Come Morning" remains a mystery; even after watching (most of) the director's commentary to find answers. We found some answers, like the identification of the character of Morrigan (Elise Rovinsky), whom we thought was simply the kid's mother, but that's not the case. ***MILD SPOILER*** The story ends with someone's ring found in someone else's possession and neither the movie nor the commentary reveal the significance of this. So this character has a certain person's ring on him, so what? Before you answer, "The ring is supposed to incriminate so and so," I get that, but incriminate him for what? Hunting in a prohibited area? Whoopee. Don't tell me he'll be incriminated for murder because (1.) it doesn't apply to the dead person in question and (2.) just because someone has another person's ring in his/her hand doesn't mean much. No matter how you slice it it's a weak ending.***END SPOILER***
The director and the other commentator reveal that they weren't able to include a lot of scenes from the original script, either because they didn't have the money/time to shoot them or they did and the footage was unusable for one reason or another. As such, there are just too many holes in the story and it leaves you unsatisfied. The director/writer makes the viewer work hard, but then fails to provide answers. Yet the story's not very compelling anyway; so even if they were able to include more revelatory material it still wouldn't help the mundane nature of the proceedings. That said, "Come Morning" is worth catching just for the mysterious backwoods cinematography and score, not to mention the quality actors; that is, if you appreciate the aforementioned similar films.
I hope the director makes more films because he's got talent, but he's going to need bigger budgets to do so effectively, plus improve his script-writing skills.
The film runs 80 minutes and was shot in Cleveland County, Arkansas.
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