Streaming on Netflix, this frontier horror film will leave you wondering if anything you just saw was real. It has some solid scares and some creepy implications that will stay with you.
The movie opens at the middle of the action with Lizzy, played by a lovely Caitlin Gerard, alone in a vast plain after the tragic death of her only neighbor’s wife. Her husband accompanies the bereaved into town with the body and leaves Lizzy by herself to tend the homestead. Things begin to get creepy however as Lizzy is set upon by a demonic force hellbent on getting her.
However, as we see her life in flashback we see that not everything is as it at first seemed and Lizzy might not be so innocent or reliable as a narrator. On her way into the frontier she is given a book about demons and the demons of the American West. Was this enough to conjure up the evil that torments her? Her neighbors were Emma and Gideon, played by Julia Godlani Telles, and Dylan McTee respectively. It seems Emma took a shine to Lizzy’s husband Isaac, played by Ashley Zukerman. Was this flirtation enough to drive Lizzy to extremes? Or was Emma beset by the same demon that now plagues Lizzy?
The movie is full of questions like these and kept me on my toes. I was wholly convinced at various times that Lizzy was one hundred percent sane and that she was one hundred percent crazy. The key for me is that it never feels manipulative. I never felt like the movie was jerking me back and forth just to trick me. We are placed firmly in Lizzy’s perspective and her mental state guide’s our perception of her reality. It’s really strong work.
I often like jump scares. I know it’s not fashionable among horror fans to like them. They are, often rightly, derided as low horror. When cheap movies set up cheap jump scares, it’s just bad filmmaking. When a movie plays its cards well and gives me a good jolt, I love it. I am all on board with that kind of jump scare. The slow methodical build up. The dread and suspense that you don’t even realize you’re feeling. I love it. This movie exercises some really good jump scares and unleashes them on the audience. It’s a lot of fun.
I like the performances. I love the cinematography. There’s a great creepy moment when a passing minister comes calling in the night that is just a great scene in general. This was a really solid little horror film.
My biggest gripe is the ending. I felt disappointed by the lack of conclusion and the lack of solid finale that the film offers. I wanted a more out of the ending, and I think a lot of viewers will too. In my experience a movie with an open ended conclusion is usually disappointing.
That said, it was a really good ride. I had fun with it. It raised my hairs, and gave me the chills. For that I’m saying it is my cup of tea. A-
Spoiler territory. Turn back now anyone who doesn’t want to know what happens.
Okay, so in the movie we have two farmsteads about a mile apart. Lizzy and Isaac have been out there for a year or so. They lost their daughter and moved out to the farthest reaches of the American west. On the way they encounter nothing but graves as everyone who’s ever tried to farmstead this land has died or deserted the land. Lizzy is given a brochure about demons.
After a time, the other farm becomes occupied by Emma and Gideon. They are young and naive about the challenges facing them. Isaac and Lizzy offer to help. As they spend more time together, Emma becomes infatuated with the handsome and capable Isaac. He spends more and more time there. Eventually Emma becomes pregnant.
It’s not made clear exactly how it happened, but a pregnant Emma came into possession of Lizzy’s gun and shot herself with it. Isaac and Gideon take her body and the body of the baby into town. Lizzy is left alone. A dark shadowy smoke descends upon her. She shoots at it and seems to injure it. That night she is tormented. Classic bump in the night stuff.
Finally, Isaac returns and accuses her of killing Emma. Lizzy denies it talking about the demons. Isaac attacks her. He may be possessed by the demon or Lizzy might be seeing things. She eventually shoots her husband and sits in the prairie bleeding from her injuries. She might die as the screen fades to black. You can see how that conclusion might be disappointing.