Friday, September 5, 2008

"Wilderness Survival for Girls" (2004, Dirs: Eli B. Despres & Kim Roberts)

A sharply directed indie thriller with a bunch of interesting ideas. The film has a nicely calibrated plot but a poor script full of stilted dialogue prevents it from really taking off. The budget is clearly low - a film like this could have worked a lot better with some adequate funding.

The directorial team of Despres and Roberts wrote and produced the film as well - I really wonder what this could have been like if a different screenwriter had been found. The directing is quite impressive for a film of this budget - the use of music and suspense is expert and there's an inventiveness in the camerawork, too - before the girls encounter the intruder, scenes shot as if from the ceiling or near the floor add a voyeuristic, creepy touch to an already uneasy mood.

The characters are well-developed, even if they aren't given good lines, and the acting is generally pretty good considering the written material the performers were given.

Ali Humiston is probably the best as the irreverent, foul-mouthed Kate, closing the seams between character and actor with ease. Jeanette Brox (an actress who I had seen on TV and liked, and the reason why I picked up this movie) has a unique, awkward charm that she can coast on for some of her scenes, but in others she shows creativity with pause and diction. She's a talented actress and one to watch. Megan Henning is the weakest link. She's not bad, but her Deborah is just bland and her attempts at neuroses are half-hearted - none of it feels genuine. James Morrison is wickedly good as the creepy intruder, projecting an aura of watchful menace.

An intriguing film - a cliched premise brought to life through taut direction, but hindered by clunky dialogue.

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