Once in a while, you will stumble across a film that needs a second watch. Not only because you really liked that film, but also because it has deep plot points and layers that need to be understood fully. On the other hand, there is another kind of film that focuses on setting up a second viewing without concern for the quality of the first viewing, and Beyond the Bridge (directed by Daniel P. Schenk) is one of those films.
This psycho-horror thriller follows student Marla (Maya Schenk) as she returns to her family's empty house in order to sell it. She has been away for 2 years and the past is mentally affecting Marla. Her parents' death in a car accident, as well as other troubles, still haunt her most of the time. One day she decides to throw a party at the house, but a drug takes the character down a dark and disturbing road, launching the plot.
During the opening, the first thing you notice from this indie film is the atmospheric soundtrack. It is synth-filled; taking inspiration from recent horror offerings such as It Follows and The Guest, and blends in a weird tone that is quite fitting to the style of the film. The score would have been enough for the introduction, but this film throws subtly out of the window for another running technique. That other technique is the film's superfluously used cutaways. They focus on imagery that no viewers will understand on a first-time viewing as those are from later scenes. Mysteries such as Memento have used this method effectively while also being understandable afterwards, while Beyond the Bridge does not. One cutaway is simply a still image that is used over 5 times and does not represent the film's budget greatly.
There are a few strengths of this film, however, worth mentioning. Schenk plays Maya with believability and modesty (albeit amongst an uncompelling cast of supporting characters), displaying emotions of fear and realisation with raw power. What is poignant as well is the twist towards the end and its execution. It ties the otherwise seemingly messy structure into an understandable directorial decision as well as being superbly heart-rending and frightening. The film's disturbing images also serve as profound analogies that parallel the main character, giving the film a little sophistication. Most of the time, though, the purposefully "scary" scenes make you feel like you are watching a video game, with the protagonist gallivanting as she walks through empty corridors, all with a high-angle tracking shot from the back, resulting in stone-faced reactions.
With all its messiness and off-putting techniques, this is an admirable showcase of Lynchian horror and includes a great performance by the main actress Maya Schenk. Perhaps giving Beyond the Bridge the second viewing it is vying for may be worth it, but most likely it will not.
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