sweetheart | j.d. dillard | alex hyner | alex theurer | kiersey clemons | emory cohen | hanna mangan lawrence | sci-fi | sci fi | thriller | united states | monster | creature | andrew crawford | benedict samuel
Director: J.D. Dillard
Writer: J.D. Dillard, Alex Hyner and Alex Theurer
Starring: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen and Hanna Mangan Lawrence
This was a film that I heard about on the Wat-Zee Party Horror Show and I added it to my list of films to see at some point. On a Friday, I already caught one movie and was looking to just relax with a documentary on Netflix. This was the first thing that popped up so I decided to give it a go as it helps my list of 2019 watches. The synopsis is Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) has washed ashore a small tropical island and it doesn’t take her long to realize she’s completely alone. She must spend her days not only surviving the elements, but must also fend off the malevolent force that comes out each night.
We start this as the synopsis states. Jenn wakes up on an island wearing a life vest. She isn’t sure how she got there or what happened, but on the beach she finds Brad (Benedict Samuel). She recognizes him and they were on the same boat together. He is hurt, as he has a piece of coral sticking out of his side. She goes to look for water to give to him, but he’s passed on before she can get back.
Jenn does more exploring around the island and finds an old campsite. The film is subtle to show us that it is quite old as there’s a Gameboy with a Gameboy Camera and everything there has a look of age. Jenn takes the items that she can use. That night she hears something loud and monstrous on the island. The following morning she finds a bunch of dead fish along with a half eaten shark. She sees that there are large claw marks on it.
She is able to build a fire with some matches she found and items keep washing up on the beach. With them she keeps finding ways to make life a bit easier as well as trying to find a way off the island. When a plane flies over head at night, she tries to fire a flare to get its attention, but we end up seeing a creature emerging from the ocean. It is big and doesn’t look friendly.
Jenn knows she has to get off this island before it is too late. The body of another passenger of their boat washes up and there’s something not quite right about his wounds. That’s when Jenn’s boyfriend Lucas (Emory Cohen) and Mia (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) find the island in a life raft. They don’t really believe what she is saying and night is rapidly approaching.
This is an interesting little film that I’m actually glad I checked out. There are definitely some solid aspects to it for sure. I almost would say this feels like a blend of Cast Away with a recent horror film The Monster. Jenn is older than the main character there, but similar premises of being trapped with a creature that is attacking you.
The idea of being stuck on an island alone is something that terrifies me, since I’m a city boy and really don’t have the best survival skills. I’ve gone camping with the amenities where I literally mean there are campsites on either side with RVs and I struggle to build a fire. Jenn does well in doing the little things to stay alive. It is even worse knowing that every night, she’s attacked by this sea creature.
Something else if you know me is that I have a fear of open water. The ocean really scares me as there are things that the bottom that could be similar to what we see in this movie. I have read the short story of Dagon from H.P. Lovecraft, so I get vibes of that here as well. I even like that the film gives us little bits of back-story that can be easily shown to us as well. An example is Jenn goes out in the water and ends up going under to see a giant hole that leads into a cave where she assumes it rescinds.
I will admit, there’s a sub-plot that is introduced once Lucas and Mia show up that does really go anywhere. We get little flashes of thinks that are hinting that something happened on the lift raft, but I just don’t understand why show it as it doesn’t do anything to progress the story. Something I do have to bring up before moving on though, this came from Blumhouse. It is ironic this was dropped on Netflix and does more feminism than a film they released to theaters. I say that as Lucas talks down to Jenn and brings up things that he feels she’s taking advantage of. She is a badass woman and just gets even tougher in her pursuit of survival. There is the idea of misogyny here though.
That will take me to how this is paced and to be honest, I thought it is fine. We get a runtime of 82 minutes so it really just gets right into it. If anything I do feel that it is starts off a tiny bit slow until after that first night. I’m willing to chalk it up to the creature doesn’t know that Jenn is on the island yet, so I’ll let it slide. I do like that when the other two show up, they immediately start to think it is in her head and that she is losing it, which is ironic for what happened on the raft. The ending though is really good and the climaxes of seeing Jenn finally have enough. It is done in a pretty believable way.
I’ll take this next to the acting. This is a group of unknowns to me, but I didn’t mind that in the slightly. Clemons I thought really did well as the lead. She wasn’t great, but I did really believe her. I do have to give her credit, most of this movie is just her trying to survive so that can’t be easy. Cohen I thought was good for his role as well. He did rub me the wrong way a bit so I have to give credit there. Lawrence is fine and Samuel did what was needed of him. Andrew Crawford portrays the creature of the movie. He is quite imposing if I’m honest and it worked for what we needed here.
Moving to the effects, I’m going to be honest, they were hit or miss. The blood and the dead bodies we get are good. They looked pretty real to me so I will give credit there. The creature is done with a combination of practical and CGI. The practical aspects were really good. They don’t really let us linger on it and I love when a film does that. If you know that it can be picked apart, give us glimpses to allow the imagination to fill it in. There was some decent CGI here and some of it I wasn’t a fan off. The movie is shot very well also.
The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. It didn’t really stand out to me until the tension scenes. They decided to go with a Synth sounding music that really took me back to like Italian films of the 80’s. I actually really dug it so I will give credit there. It won’t be a score I revisit often, but really one that worked for what they were using it for.
Now with that said, this film does some things that really terrify me. Being isolated on an island without knowing if you will be saved is scary, but then you have a creature that is stalking you. I’m terrified of what could be at the bottom of the ocean so that helps as well. This really is a character study of Jenn and I think Clemons performance was good. The others are solid in support of her. I think the pacing is fine and most of the effects are pretty good. There is some CGI that I wasn’t a fan of. The soundtrack works for what they needed as well. I would say overall this is above average film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10