23 July 2015 | ferguson-6
Small Town Family Secrets
Greetings again from the darkness. A literary wink is always appreciated, and writer/director Brad Coley delivers with a chance meeting of Tristan (Chris Sarandon) and Isolda (Shamika Cotton). Though these two destiny-named characters provide the most interest, Mr. Coley chooses instead to focus on the small town mystique, family lies and long-kept secrets.
Isolda manipulates her sad and recently divorced friend Clair (Rachel Miner) into a road trip from NYC to the childhood hometown that is at the heart of a deeply suppressed traumatic memory that took the life of Rachel's mother. The traditional and well-worn aspects of rural town dynamics are all in play here. Small town power-mongers are commonplace in these types of stories and here we get William Sadler in the patriarch role. He and his four sons make it clear to Rachel that she is not welcome in town and that she shouldn't go digging up the past.
Mr. Coley teases supernatural elements along the lines of The Wicker Man, Stephen King and M. Night Shyamalan. Instead, we are left holding the proverbial empty bag after numerous plot twists. There are some fine moments involving individual character interactions, but the creepy and looming payoff never really occurs. As for the titular Frank (Andy Comeau), we hear many bad things about him, but he is a bit of a letdown in "bastard" terms as we get to know him.
It should be noted that this was the final film for Ellen Albertini Dow, who passed away this year at the age of 101. Her performance as the Rapping Granny in The Wedding Singer is indelibly etched into the mind of everyone who has seen that movie.
The unnecessary land-grab scheme really sucks the life right out of the family secrets intrigue, but it's the use of photography, fire and flashbacks (usually during Clair's panic attacks) that prove there exists some creative filmmaking ideas in the head of Mr. Coley.