A man and his 9-year-old daughter disappear into the swampy Virginia backwoods. Haunted by tragedy and destitution, they must both face the painful past if they are to ever have a future.A man and his 9-year-old daughter disappear into the swampy Virginia backwoods. Haunted by tragedy and destitution, they must both face the painful past if they are to ever have a future.A man and his 9-year-old daughter disappear into the swampy Virginia backwoods. Haunted by tragedy and destitution, they must both face the painful past if they are to ever have a future.
Mr. Pullen shows some real potential here. This isn't the best of it's type I've seen, but it is FAR from the worst. And it is worth a watch, particularly if you are interested in filmmaking. It was as fun seeing what he got wrong as it was seeing what he got right. It would make a great film for a film class to study.
And visually, it was a great. Heck, James Cameron has made a fortune making really stupid yet gorgeous movies. Beautiful is worth a lot.
This film has its plusses and its minuses.
ACTING: Like most indie films it is a grab-bag. Steve Pullen himself is probably better off staying behind the camera, but he doesn't make you wince (although he does chew the scenery a bit). Little Isabella as Sophia is a stand-out, though. She has a future in acting.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Actually pretty good. Whomever was handling the camera is decent. Some of the scenery is gorgeous and shots were well-framed.
WRITING: Mixed bag. The dialogue isn't terrible (not great either) and the story concept is interesting, but the story itself was a little too complicated and a little too contrived. For a long time it appeared there were two disparate stories happening here, and while I see what he was going for as far as the parallels and inferences, it really got muddled up. The opening made certain promises to the viewer, and I found a lot of that middle ground to be frustrating as I was waiting for it to play out the way I suspected it might (it didn't, by the way). It was like being taken out of the story and put into another one. I found myself not caring about any of the tension in "that" part of the story because it felt like an interruption to the original narrative. iI also think a few too many liberties were taken with the story (as we saw it) to justify that ending, but it was an admirable attempt. However, if you're going to go in that direction you need a little more foreshadowing. Nobody should be left at the big reveal saying "huh... wha?" And the denouement was just a bit too much. I want to avoid making this a spoiler review so I'll skip making the obvious comment about that. When you see the film, though, you'll see what I mean. It was a twist too far. And it stretched on WAAAY too long, explaining and explaining and explaining until we realize the filmmaker was not confident in how he had presented his story. If you feel the need to spell out everything you just showed your audience, you already know you didn't get it right.
EDITING: Well done. Good editing is invisible; bad editing will destroy a movie.
MAKEUP: Normally I wouldn't even talk about make-up in a review, but this was so horrific it had to be mentioned. It was like make-up in a children's theatrical production : it looked like it was slopped onto faces by a stage-mom volunteer who had a few too many chardonnays before showing up at the theater. Just really, really bad, to the point of distraction.
Another rare mention is the TITLE SEQUENCE: Whoever did this has some artistic vision and talent with a computer. It looked very professionally done and fit the tone of the film.
Despite my criticisms, I think Mr. Pullen should continue to make films. I can see some really good movies in his future as he hones is craft. He is one of the reasons that I am loving the rise in indie filmmaking as the means to make movies becomes more accessible. This may not be a total winner, but the raw material is there, and some of it was really, really good (and talent is rare).
PS: If you're going to have family members make fake reviews, tell them to avoid superlatives and hyperbole. The stink of fake was all over some of these reviews and it was an embarrassment to the film. Reviews aren't just something to make people want to watch your film, they are your honest feedback. Requesting fake reviews is narcissistic and not helpful. I almost skipped this film because those reviews were so ridiculous. I'm glad I didn't.
- Oct 14, 2018