This horror-flecked backwoods Pennsylvanian fable ought to function a helpful calling card for writer-directors Kevin Ignatius and Nick Psinakis, who summon up an atmosphere so oppressive, it’s as if the movie is being beamed straight out of the deep, reptilian mind. The atmospherics and the plot’s occultish trimmings really feel considerably indebted to Panos Cosmatos’s 2018 film Mandy however that is an undeniably sharp technical train, despite its apparent shoestring price range.
A nerve-jangling prologue sees dark-haired siblings Henry (Carter O’Donnell) and Jacob (Brady O’Donnell) cable-tie their abusive father Duane (Michael Thyer) to a mattress and abscond from his cabin on BMXs. They’ve acquired good cause: in a single river-bathing scene, we see he as soon as branded Henry with a garments iron. After a tipoff from a gardening buyer, they determine to move cross-country northwards, on the path of the estranged mom (Trina Campbell) who they hope can cause them to a greater life.
Deploying ominous drone pictures of unbroken forestscapes, hallucinogenic lens distortions and PTSD-seared flashbacks to home horrors, Ignatius and Psinakis make this escapade indelibly subjective. Ignatius’s evocative scoring – starting from Appalachian banjo to off-kilter electronics – takes issues up one other notch. One questionable selection is the flanging sound impact utilized to all of the dialogue; maybe it’s meant to recommend trauma-induced emotional disconnect, but it surely retains the brothers at a take away and muddies our comprehension of the story.
The reality is, although, there isn’t that a lot story to soak up other than a couple of morsels: a mysterious sigil-marked rock Jacob finds, the infestation rising on Henry’s neck, and their discovery of what sort of firm their mom is retaining. Ordered into one-word chapters (“Viaduct”, “Lake”), this elemental strategy is meant to knit the entire right into a type of modern-day fairytale, however threadbare as it’s, it feels extra generic than archetypal. Fortunately, Ignatius and Psinakis’s alert visuals and bruised temper assist keep a crisp mythic footprint.