Sunday, 19 September 2021

Shadowtown (2020)

This is a short thriller based in Iceland, created by (unknown to me) Jon Einarsson Gustafsson and Karolina Lewicka. I have mixed feelings after watching it, which leap between admiration for an excellent artistic work and a broad shrug for a lethargic low-budget film with an underused cast and lazy plot.

Maya inherits her grandmother's house. Grandmother has died recently and as soon as Maya arrives it becomes clear that it may not have been by the accident which had been recorded officially. As Maya digs around in the house, various shady characters show up around the premises with apparent evil in their eyes!

Turns out that some decades earlier, there had been a boating accident in which many of the townsfolk had been killed and this may, or may not, have had an impact on the life of the grandmother and those around her. Elements of the story unfold as we go along and Maya teams up with some local people in search of the truth - the local policewoman, a solicitor she bumps into and a girl who works in the local coffee shop.

The very pretty Brittany Bristow is in the lead and does a grand job, with the rest of the cast supporting ably (though I don't know any of them I'm afraid). The film is shot in very muted colours and light levels, reflecting a winter in a snow-covered land, faraway north. It also reflects the darkness and mood of the plot. Sadly the plot is at best confusing and at worst, leaving the viewer with unanswered questions with suggestions towards the supernatural.

It's an attempt at an arthouse film in many ways with nods to Kieslowski's Three Colours Trilogy, reserved and underplayed suspense here and there but with no real shocks. A couple of twists in the storyline but nothing anywhere near a jaw-drop! You have to work to fill in the gaps for yourself a bit, but that doesn't take anything away from the attempt here to create something interesting and a bit different. There are some outcomes and logic to the story, which kind of hang together reasonably at the end, but don't expect a bow around it!

It's a short film, not even 90 minutes, but if you focus in on the art, the pretty good acting and the interesting cinematography, the time will fly. If you focus on the plot holes and underdeveloped elements, expecting a neat Hollywood movie, you'll get bored and turn it off. I'm very pleased that I saw it.

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