Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Sweet River Review: A True Crime Drama Told Through Horror

Lisa Kay	...	Hanna Eddie Baroo	Eddie Baroo	...	Tom Evans Chris Haywood	Chris Haywood	...	Nigel Martin Sacks	Martin Sacks	...	John Drake Charlotte Stent	Charlotte Stent	...	Violet Sam Parsonson	Sam Parsonson	...	Troy Jack Ellis	Jack Ellis	...	Simpkins Geneviève Lemon	Geneviève Lemon	...	Elenor Bryan Probets	Bryan Probets	...	Clayton Rob Carlton	Rob Carlton	...	Wilkins Jayden McGinlay	Jayden McGinlay	...	Max Jeremy Waters	Jeremy Waters	...	James Lipton

Release date: April 23, 2021
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed By: Justin McMillan
Written By: Eddie Baroo and Marc Furmie
Starring: Lisa Kay, Eddie Baroo, Martin Sacks, Chris Heywood, Charlotte Stent, Jack Ellis, Jayden McGinlay, Genevieve Lemon, Sam Parsonson, Bryan Probets, Rob Carlton, and Jeremy Waters.

Hana (Kay)’s search for her son’s body leads her to the sleepy town of Billing, where her investigations uncover more than she expected and threaten to expose the towns secrets . . . secrets that both the living and the dead will fight to protect.

Tom Harberd	...	associate producer Phil Hunt	...	executive producer Steve Jaggi	...	executive producer Gabrielle Joosten	...	co-executive producer Annie Kinnane	...	line producer Spencer McLaren	...	executive producer Ashley McLeod	...	producer Compton Ross	...	executive producer James M. Vernon	...	executive producer Kristy Vernon	...	executive producer
Sweet River starts as more of a true crime film, less about the supernatural and more about Hana's quest to track down the body and killer of her son.  It has a serious, sinister, and authentic feel at the start.  The setting of Sweet River is perfect for this kind of story.  Set in the Australian outback, it gives the film a sense of isolation and dread.  And the area is surrounded and overgrown by some sort of tall brush that lets the film conceal a lot of what happens.  It lets things flow in and out of the world easily and makes you think that there is always something just beyond the grass.  All of this contributes to a deliciously sinister tone. 

And with the initial part of the film being more true crime and less overt horror, the characters themselves are much more important to keep the audience engaged.  And thankfully, the characters are well acted and complex.  This film, true to its true crime roots, puts much more importance on the characters and their interactions.  In a town where everyone has something secret, you really have to pay attention to keep up with what is going on.  Kay is great as Hana, with a determined personality and a slightly overwhelmed feeling that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  And the other characters help or hurt her search for her son, but as she digs deeper, she learns who to trust and who to avoid.  The town has many secrets and the more she digs, the more she learns about its dark past.  And Sacks is also quite good as her landlord and guide around the town, who fills her in on what is happening and watches out for her.  

The story of Sweet River really does feel more true crime with a smattering of horror thrown in.  Seriously, this could have been more of a drama / thriller and it would have worked just as well.  That doesn't mean it doesn't have some supernatural, horror elements; but those elements generally do not take center stage.  They definitely become more prominent as the film progresses, but there are rarely moments that would be described as conventional horror.  The movie uses more of its great setting, sinister tone, and tense music to keep you on edge.  And the film doesn't necessarily need the supernatural to evoke a creepy tone.  However, the story of Sweet River, because it deals with lies, secrets, and the past, can be a little confusing on the first watch.  I had to see it twice to really catch some of the hints in the story, and there are several characters that play a role here so keeping track of them was difficult on the first viewing.  But that being said, if you are interested in horror or true crime, this is a well done indie film and a great excuse to watch it twice!  

Sweet River walks the line between true crime and horror, with a sinister setting and tone, tense music, and characters that have plenty of secrets that they don't want dug up.

Watch it.

Directed by  Justin McMillan	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Eddie Baroo	 Marc Furmie
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Sweet River is available digitally and on demand on April 23, 2021. 

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