Susie Potter went missing ten years ago. Her dying mother was the only person who kept Susie’s memory alive in Clayton Scott’s thriller, Below The Fold.
David Fremont (Davis DeRock) is a veteran reporter at The Daily Forum in Maryville, Missouri. Tired of covering mundane stories like tractor pulls and school board meetings, Jason (Daniel Compo), his editor, asks him to cover the tenth anniversary of Susie’s disappearance as a favor to her mother. Joining David is a recent hire, Lisa (Sarah McGuire).
As David and Lisa attempt to ask Susie’s friends and neighbors questions, it’s one slammed door after the other. Soon the pair begin making headway. Susie is painted as a God-fearing teen who loved her church’s youth group as much as her Bible. What was to be a tribute piece soon turns into a full-blown investigation with evidence leading to Susie’s creepy neighbor, Jeff (Rick Daniels). As in all thrillers, the most likely answer is never the correct answer.
Below The Fold is a low-budget indie thriller and plays like an extended episode of Law & Order: SVU. David and Lisa investigate by interviewing suspects and witnesses in Susie’s disappearance, and the deeper they go, the closer they get to the truth. Much of the time spent in the first act involves the pair breaking through the silence and suspicion of the community. Once the duo gets past this invisible barrier, they must then deal with cover-ups and threats from very powerful people in the town.
“…his editor, asks him to cover the tenth anniversary of Susie’s disappearance as a favor to her mother.”
Below The Fold is writer/director/producer Clayton Scott’s first feature film and serves as an excellent foundation for a budding career. The story is solid, and Scott wisely uses the small Missouri town as his story’s backdrop to keep the budget low and add character to the tale.
My only issue is that the plot is too straightforward. It’s a criminal investigation and not much more. Yes, there is a dynamic between David and Lisa, who have a past. Lisa is a good reporter, and throughout the investigation, she becomes more and more frustrated with the community’s apathy surrounding the crime and the blatant cover-up and protection of the guilty.
Below The Fold feels like it belongs on television instead of being a feature film. With television, one has to strip down the story to the investigation and spend little time on the personal lives of its leads. It’s all about the crime. In cinema, the story would be about the lead investigators, with less focus on the crime. Because we’re spending so much time with David and Lisa, we want to get to know them, and solving the crime should change them. It should become the catalyst of their character arc. Spending ninety minutes on a series of interviews grows tiresome.
With how streaming is changing the way stories are told and blurring the lines between feature film and episodic series, my point may become moot in the coming years. Either way, if you’re looking for a solid mystery to solve from an emerging indie filmmaker with obvious talent, you’ll find it in Below The Fold.
"…an excellent foundation for a budding career."