Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Bruce Dern, dead by dawn australia, Eagle Entertainment Australia, Robert Longstreet, survival horror, Teddy Grennan
There are moments in this film that are painfully slow and arborous, which is a shame considering it’s a tale of survival against the odds.
And yet, there are moments that are peppered throughout the narrative that give rise to the piece and show signs of promise for Teddy Grennan in his directorial feature debut.
Chief among this is in his lead, Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Under The Silver Lake) delivering a powerful performance as Harper, a nature photographer who witnesses a brutal crime. Stranded in a remote woodland terrain, she is captured and tormented by the culprits. Against the odds, Harper escapes and must use her guile and knowledge of the wild to find her freedom and bring her assailants down.
Her moments of revenge are satisfying on MacGyver style proportions and Harper is truly alone in her fight for survival, as everywhere she turns, she is faced with conspiracy.
There is also a suitably strong performance from Bruce Dern (Silent Running) as a quirky hermit character, and due nods should go to Robert Longstreet (The Haunting of Hill House, and soon to be seen in Midnight Mass, and Halloween Kills) who taps into the darker psyche bringing the alpha villain Ravener the amount of depth needed to make the ordeal more intense.
So far, so middle of the road viewing which neither excites or disappoints, but when the final reel comes around, it is so out of left field and out of keeping with the narrative thus far, that you have to question its placement other than for shock value. The trouble is that it comes across as a misbeat and sours the rest of the film. Not enough character development is put into place to give the shock factor the payoff that the director was aiming for.
It’s a decent enough narrative around survival against the odds, packed with solid performances, but it can’t shake off the mediocrity and then suckerpunches with an incredibly disjointed ending.
- Saul Muerte