A teenage boy discovers the perpetrators of several brutal kidnappings in his home town
I’m going to start out by saying I didn’t hate this film, but as much as I wanted to give it some love I really couldn’t.
Our story begins with the disappearance of a teenage girl named Elizabeth (Dana Melanie) and her little brother. Elizabeth comes home from school to find a trail of muddy footprints leading through her house and her brother’s room empty. Following the trail outside, she crosses paths with…something…and disappears.
Cut to the local high school, where Killian (J. MIchael Trautmann) is dealing with his daily dose of bully. His older brother Crawford (Daniel Frederick) puts the bully in his place.
Killian and Crawford’s parents are long passed away, and they live with their aunt. We see several flashbacks concerning their abusive father and long-suffering mother, but we don’t really find out how they both died.
Apparently this paricular night is some sort of local folk festival concerning a legend about the town witch. It’s a big deal in the small town. But with the disappearance of the girl and her brother (which, according to the local cop, has happened before at this time of year) the festival is canceled. A strict curfew is put in place and all the kids are sent immediately home from school. Presumeably to lock themselves inside until the threat has passed.
Of course they don’t. A group of teenagers plan on having their own festival in the mountains, with fireworks and stuff. Killian and Crawford head off to join the fun. They get there before everyone else and discover an old treehouse.
Inside the treehouse is the missing girl, Elizabeth. She is seriously injured, and also diabetic. She’s quite a hot mess. She keeps talking about how “they” are watching and “they” will kill them. Crawford leaves to get help while Killian stays with Elizabeth. “They” appear on the ground and in the trees and it becomes obvious to Killian that he is in serious trouble.
Through a two way radio, Killian talks to the other people who are supposed to meet them and tries to tell them to get out of the woods. Of course they don’t. We hear them die on the radio.
The long night continues as Killian and Elizabeth try to escape without being seen. Meanwhile, who are the mysterious “they” and why are people dying?
I have a lot of problems with this film. Starting with the first 25 minutes, which could have easily been cut in half. Granted, the opening sequence with the disappearance of Elizabeth is really good, but I feel they could have done with out it. The bully sequence could have been shortened as well.
The best part of the film really starts about 45 minutes in when we get to the treehouse. Stark lighting, only two characters, and the sense of danger and suspense. Actually, once Crawford leaves, the majority of the film is carried by these two actors.
Dana Melanie has a few credits, including an appearance on Criminal minds. Her character is written to be very unlikeable, at least that’s how she came across to me. I’m also not a fan of the dialogue overall, but she does a great job with what she was given.
- Michael Trautman has some good experience as well as a recurring character on the tv series Shameless. He plays the awkwardness of this character so perfectly, right down to the body language.
Daniel Frederick, while not in the film very long, has my favorite credit of all time. He was the voice of Grell in the anime series Black Butler. Other than that, he has two other on-camera credits. One is a short film called The Best Day Ever and an upcoming production called The High Schooler’s Guide to College Parties.
Don’t blink if you want to see a really quick cameo by General hospital actor Darren Kennedy as the local cop.
Director Michael Bartlett has some serious cred with me for his previous films The Zombie Diaries and The Zombie Diaries 2. Visually, this film is really well done and his actors are, in my opinion, well directed.
Where this film failed for me was in the story. So many things thrown at the viewer in the first half hour that seem really unnecessary. Some of them do come full circle by the end. Others have nothing to do with anything and I wonder why time was spent on them. Misdirection? Red herring? Sure, I can go with that. But it was such a slog getting through that to get to the good stuff, the real meat of the story.
Still, as I said I don’t hate it. Once it got going, it was actually not a bad film.
So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 5 lens flares.