20 July 2016 | A_Different_Drummer
In many ways the QuintEssential Canadian indie
And that may not be a compliment.
As I have indicated in other reviews, it is hard to review Canadian films entirely on their own merits. Frankly,if you did, they would not fare especially well. Because the Canadian film industry is one of those odd businesses which does not have to survive entirely on its own merits. Because of tax breaks, dollar exchanges, and geographical placement, the Canunk film machine is a lot like the president of a company that got the job not on talent but because he was the nephew or son in law of the Chairman of the Board. He can do the job. But there are also many others who can do it better.
Typical of the genre, we have a minimalist cast, largely unknown (although Bamber could pass for an international leading man) and a story which (heavy sigh) is a re-imagining of something older and wiser, (in this case Treasure of Sierra Madre, more or less.) Where the film gets props it is for the attempt (and I am choosing my words carefully) to turn the Canadian climate into a natural horror backdrop. This is somewhat clever and works somewhat well. To the point where you almost expect to see in the closing credits a SFX nod to "Mother Nature."
That said, the script is not especially sharp, nor is the acting. The brilliant and unappreciated TV series Fortitude did a much better job of making a natural climate seem menacing and scary. (Recommended if you missed it.)
Plus, (again heavy sigh) the film suffers from the standards "tells" one sees in most Canadian indies. The cinematography, the lighting, is perfect. Literally perfect. You get the feeling that the Director refused to shoot on any day that was overcast or had bad weather. Because in 40 years of trying, Canadian film-makers have never quite grasped that sometimes imperfection makes a story more credible. Even the outfits worn by the actors (until the final 15 minutes) look like they were replaced each morning, brand new, from the local Walmart.
Other IMDb members have commented on the fake reviews (a true failing in the IMDb system, especially with obscure films that get few reviews) so we will not go there.
And yes the film did win awards but (you guessed it) from a Canadian Award group. Essentially a group that had to find SOMEONE to give the awards to each year -- a paradox within a conundrum. Within an industry created by accountants.