Monday, October 7, 2019

meet is murder.

Saw and reviewed this not long after its original release 5 years back and am pretty shocked that no-one else seems to have ever seen it because it's quite brilliant.

No idea what it's doing here then.

Meet Me There (2014).
Dir: Lex Lybrand.
Cast: Lisa Friedrich, Micheal Foulk, Jill Thompson and Dustin Runnels.

When Ada's (Friedrich, looking for all the world like a perfect splicing between Gaylen Ross and Sarah Polley which, trust me, is a good thing) deep seated sexual anxieties begin to impact on her relationship with her loving boyfriend, Calvin (Foulk, sans Hobbes), the cutesy couple decide to attend counseling sessions where it becomes worryingly clear that Ada has almost totally forgotten anything related to her childhood.

Concerned that she may have suffered some kind of filthy fiddling as a child her counselor suggests that the best way of overcoming the intimacy- based issues is trying to re-connect with her past.

Which is much better than the "kill the whores to save yourself" advice that my counselor gave me.

And much less messy.

Being a thoroughly nice bloke, Calvin offers to take Ada on a cross state road trip to her home town of Sheol (think the West Midlands with a shallower gene pool and cheaper trousers) in the hope that it may trigger some memory that will help Ada overcome her fears and enable Calvin to finally come over her.

Sorry that was uncalled for.

Anyway after a creepy run in with a boss-eyed petrol station attendant things go from bad to Lynch upon arrival in the town, firstly Calvin is threatened with a shooting for attempting to buy bottled water and when they finally get to the location of Ada's childhood home all that they find is a tree.

True enough, it's a very nice tree but not the place you can imagine anyone raising a family.

Unless they were Ewoks obviously.

"You did WHAT in your cup?"

Making the best of a bad situation they decide to visit Ada's slightly sinister Aunt Lindsay (a fantastic turn from comics scribe Thompson) in the hope of spending the night - reckoning it'd be safer than spending it in the car - but fail to reckon with her overwhelming love of God and her overblown loathing of tattoos.

This obviously leads to an oh so slightly uncomfortable evening made worse after bedtime when the couple are kept awake by Lindsay and her hubbie shouting abuse at each other.

A wee bit like when I go home to visit.*

Waking bright and early the next morn the couple decide to take advantage of the sunshine and take a leisurely walk around the town, partly to see if they can actually find Ada's old home but mainly to see if there are any normal people around.

Or at least ones that aren't related to each other.

Or have the right number of toes.

Yup, it's definitely like my home town.

It's not too long (it's a short movie) before they come across (not in that way but judging by Calvin's frustrated demeanour it wont be long before he can help himself) the local church and it's even more local Preacher, Edward Woodward (A genuinely unsettling performance from ex-wrestler Runnels) who, after inviting them inside for a chat and a chocolate Hob Nob calmly suggests that they should both kill themselves.

Which is a wee bit unexpected.

Mulder and Scully....the hairy years.

Between this, the trigger-happy locals and Aunt Lindsay's warts The pair decide that it'd probably be for the best if they just grab their stuff and head home now (which seeing as they're from Texas gives you some idea of how fucked up the place is) unbeknown to them tho' Ada's mad uncle has torched their car leaving them no choice but to attempt to fight their way back  home.

It seems that the locals take the story that people only visit Sheol when they're ready to die very seriously indeed.

Similar in style to Jay Dahl's fantastic There Are Monsters, director Lex Lybrand alongside writers Brandon Stroud and Destiny D Talley - on who’s personal experiences the film is based, spookily and allegedly) is that rare beast that takes a much used horror cliché - this time the stranger-baiting small town - yet delivers something unique and unexpected despite - or because of - this oft-used formula.

In a rare and somewhat bold move, the majority of the films running time is taken up with exploring the characters of Ada and Calvin and their relationship with each other  before suddenly dropping us - and them - into the terrifyingly real threat that the townsfolk pose.
And what of our lovelorn leads?

Well Lybrand seems less concerned with the acting skills of Friedrich and Foulk and more about keeping their reactions real and it's credit to the pair that the approach works so well.

The entire film hinges on the believability of their relationship and both pull this off with aplomb.

I've not been this worried about a characters fate since Andrew Sensenig's sensitive performance as a grieving dad in the sublime We Are Still Here and thinking about it you can see this movie as a kinda punky, art school little brother to that.

Intense, unsettling and strangely compelling, Meet Me There is everything you could want from a low budget movie and shows that you don't need to splash out the cash to dole out the scares.

A little gem.

Shit, I better find something awful to watch soon before folk start to think I've gone soft in my old age.....

*Or at least it used to be seeing as last time I went down to visit it turned out that my folks had sold the house and not told me....had to spend 3 days sleeping in the new owners shed.

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