Take me to the River : The nightmare you want to wake up instantly.
You can’t stop yourself reminiscing Thomas Vinterberg’s intense & unsettling Danish drama ‘The Hunt (Jagten)‘ once you are 15 mins into writer-director Matt Sobel’s confident debut feature ‘Take me to the river’. Matt’s writing and direction exude control over every frame in the film. He knows how to play with characters effectively to create the mystery and when to open his cards. Even when the scene looks superfluous like a field of an unceasing sunflower field, it manages to create an eerie atmosphere. At one time, even the silence starts pinching you.
A petulant California teen, Ryder (Logan Miller), wearing Elton Jon’s sunglasses argues with his parents about divulging his sexual preference while traveling for the family get together to Nebraska. The whole episode of Ryder and his parent’s argument to keep tight-lipped because it’s about more than just him shows the existence of conservative thinking still prevalent in the rural areas. What gets worst for them that they are coldly welcomed. Except for a few family members in their twilight years, others don’t seem happy about their arrival, not because they have any personal problems but they think and believe them as an outsider.
You perceive something is terribly wrong when everyone comes together. Hostility stems as the time progresses. Ryder does his best to play cool. He stubbornly wears red shorts & deep V-neck t-shirt to which his cousins smirk and call him a weirdo.
While you just hold back your fear of something going haywire and things start looking felicitous, at that exact moment the festive atmosphere turns ominous. He’s upstaged when a drop of blood found on the dress of 9- years old cousin, Molly, who was with Ryder alone in the barn.
And so begins a chain of events whereby old family resentments are aired, some secrets are divulged, some are kept in the closet giving a hint of something vicious is about to reveal anytime around the corner. The film quite smartly underplays the complex bond between mother (Cindy played by Robin Weigert) and her son. The relationship they share may come as a secondary plot to the obvious primary plot of mystery around what happened between Molly and Ryder in the barn, but by the end credit roll, once you scratch the surface you will see the film in altogether a different light.
The film is not a horror but the way events blossom is nothing less than horror. Although lyrical screenplay ‘seems’ dull, it is tensive and tight and hypnotic, and after a moment it descends into a claustrophobic zone. ‘Take me to the River’ is a kind of a film that will haunt you for days, a promising start to Matt Sobel.