FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! At first glance, it seems that Don’t Say Its Name is a stealth hybrid of the 1978 Australian cult favorite Long Weekend (or if you hate yourself, the 2008 American remake also known as Nature’s Grave) and Syfy’s Man-Thing (yes, before the MCU, Marvel was in Sci-Fi Channel territory). However, as this Rueben Martell directed and co-written (with Gerald Wexler) film continues, it becomes clear that the filmmaker has a lot he wants to discuss in his debut feature. So, is he successful, or did Martell bite off more than he can chew?
Betty Stonechild (Madison Walsh) is a Tribal Police Officer who is called to the scene of a grisly murder. The surviving witness, the dead woman’s fiancee, is incoherently mumbling about a blackbird flying overhead, a smell, and seeing nothing. Betty suspects he might be on meth, but the bodies begin to pile up as the day goes on. Each death is done in the same manner as the previous killings.
“…they discover that nature is attacking those who wish to harm it.”
Unsure of the connection between the deceased and running dangerously low on options, Betty deputizes Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur). Stacey served several tours in Afghanistan and is now the federal game warden in the area. As the two continue their investigation, they discover that nature is attacking those who wish to harm it. Urgency sets in as it seems Betty’s nephew, Ben (Samuel Marty), might be the next target.
Don’t Say Its Name is set on native lands in the snowy north. This is the perfect setting for this tale of nature run amok. The isolated landscape allows for tension without overly convoluted reasons to separate characters or drop cell coverage. Douglas Munro’s cinematography beautifully captures the awe-inspiring setting, and the red blood of the murders is a vibrant splash of color against the pure white ground. It is a wonderful sight to behold.
"…explores Indigenous peoples' culture, and looks at their future..."