(director: Robin Prorit; screenwriter: Micah Ranum; cinematographer: Manuel Dacosse; editor: Cam MacLauchlin/Alain Dessauvage; music: Brooke & Will Blair; cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Rayburn), Annabelle Wallis (Alice Gustafson), Brielle Robillard (Gwen), Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Brooks), Melanie Scrofano (Debbie), Shaun Smyth (Dr. Boone), Zahn McClarnon (Blackhawk), Patrick Garrow (Jim Needles); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Cybill Lui Eppich; Saban Films; 2020-Canada/USA)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director Robin Prorit (“The Ardennes”) is a Belgian citizen, of semi Dutch heritage, making his first English feature a mystery story that lacks logic. It’s written by Micah Ranum.
It opens with a dead female teenager’s body floating downriver in the Minnesota woods, with her throat slit (the Silencing!). The new local sheriff Alice Gustafson (Annabelle Wallis), from Chicago, and her deputy Blackhawk (Zahn McClarnon) investigate. There have been a number of unsolved kidnappings and murders of teenage girls in the area. Blackhawk suspects the sheriff’s troubled druggie brother (the prime suspect who was spotted in the woods where the killer operates) and child abuse victim Brooks (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) is the killer, but the sheriff dismisses that notion. She’s guilt-ridden that after her parents dies she abandoned her kid brother and he was adopted by cruel foster parents.
Rayburn (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, Danish actor), an alcoholic hunter no longer a hunter but now operating an animal sanctuary, professes an obsessive interest to get the killer for his own grim reasons–the guilt-ridden grieving father’s daughter (Brielle Robillard) was kidnapped at 14 and five years later is still missing. His ex-wife wants him to declare her dead, which he refuses to do, so she can have closure and a fresh start with the guy who knocked her up.
While in the woods, Rayburn spots what might be a suspicious hunter, dressed in a ridiculous looking camouflage outfit, and while checking him out gets attacked by him with Indian spears from his efficient “Atlati” spear gun. The attacker escapes. The wounded Rayburn then finds an escaped victim of the kidnapper, a mute girl (Melanie Scofano), and treats the badly hurt girl. Then he follows some clues in the woods, which lead him to the killer’s hideout. There he discovers the killer’s motives for his rampage. The sheriff is not convinced Rayburn has found the hideout. Meanwhile a weapon’s expert (Patrick Garrow) and a doctor (Shaun Smyth) find clues that lead the sheriff to the same hideout.
The serial killer story never quite jells as believable or as a good suspense story, and as character study does not develop its characters. The killer turns out to be a surprise, even though we should not be surprised considering how poorly the story is developed.
The shoddy production sets, the uninspiring musical score and the dark photography, help make it a not too enjoyable watch. The low-budget thriller, offering a standard serial-killer tale but one with too many red herrings, left me unimpressed. I would have been better off taking a pass on it.
REVIEWED ON 8/24/2020 GRADE: C