(director/writer: Chad Crawford Krinkle; cinematographer: Jeff Wedding; editor: Chad Crawford Krinkle; music: Sean Spillane ; cast: Brandy Edmiston (Brandy), Larry Fessenden (Larry), Katie Groshong (Katie), Scott Hodges (Joey), Eller Hall (Eller), Stephanie Kinkle (Stephanie); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Chad Crawford Kinkle, Ashleigh Snead; A Dark Star Release; 2019)
“A micro-budget horror pic that effectively in a surreal way tells about folks with strange beliefs in the backwoods of Tennessee.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Chad Crawford Krinkle (“Jug Face”) is the auteur of this micro-budget horror pic that effectively in a surreal way tells about folks with strange beliefs in the backwoods of Tennessee. Chad tells the story of Katie (Katie Groshong), who fled from a religious cult group where abused by its leader (Larry Fessenden) and though now free is still traumatized by that experience. Wishing to help others in need, the nervous Katie gets a part-time job as a caretaker in a center for disabled adults, hoping that by caring for someone besides herself in need she will feel better. Things go well, even though the job is low paying and she lives out of her car, but things change when she starts to obsess on one of the residents, the vulnerable 40-year-old Stephanie (Stephanie Krinkle, the director’s sister). Katie favors her and fears that the same dark forces that captured her may have targeted Stephanie, a victim of Down syndrome, and it’s up to her to prevent it.
Through the eerie musical score by Sean Spillane, strange sounding warbles in the air, the sharp sounds of barking dogs and a nude woman running in the woods, the charged atmosphere is set at the home’s dark woodsy location. It signals that bad things are bound to happen here. The cinematographer Jeff Wedding’s handheld camera gives a clear picture of what’s transpiring. Meanwhile through intermittent flashbacks, we learn of Katie’s fright she still suffers as a result of being with the cult.
Katie again hears those same haunting voices in the night, and to protect her charge puts her in danger in order to best protect her from future attacks. It leads to an ennerving climax, one that’s arthouse rich and darkly upsetting, as it leaves an ambiguous ending where you are left unsure of events (I found this to be a fault, indicating the film was underwritten).
To its credit, those in need are played by actual those in need people, and they are a critical part of the story. Authenticity largely separates Krinkle’s film from other similar themed works. The only two professional actors in the film were Groshong and the revered indie horror pic director Larry Fessenden.
REVIEWED ON 3/10/2021 GRADE: B