I was also impressed that the screenplay added dimension to all of the characters. Even smaller roles like Micah’s dad get complexity and depth. Once the first big twist sets things in motion, the movie engages and continues to stay juicy. There is a lot to appreciate about this first-time feature’s structure. That being said, it runs at least a half-hour too long. Part of the problem is the filmmaker’s tendency to portray mundane routines while advancing the plot. We do not need to see characters wake up repeatedly nor eat meals with family nor sit in class. We watch films to see people do something other than the routines we have to do ourselves.
Fisher does not market itself as faith-based, and there is no overt wholesome message to be had unless Bryson is doing some really sly Flannery O’Connor s**t about temptation as a horror show. However, there is a preponderance of Christianity among the characters, with even the bloody death threats arriving with Bible verses attached. Southern Baptist spirituality crops up with the same frequency rubber monster masks show up in Don Dohler flicks.
“Bryson does horror very well, with good instincts that fans will relish.”
This is a good thing, as representation is important, and the area of the country this is set has a heavy religious foundation. Plus, it doesn’t get it the way of cast diversity and even the inclusion of a gay friend. Nor does it stifle the suspense, which plays it Hitchcockian until it blossoms into a slasher spectacle.
Bryson does horror very well, with good instincts that fans will relish. She would do well to delve deeper into her talents in that genre, as creepiness pairs well with theology. But, already, she has managed to make a feature movie in a part of the world where that doesn’t happen much, and there is a lot of good in it. Now, if only someone can whittle Fisher down to a more manageable length.
"…plays it Hitchcockian until it blossoms into a slasher spectacle."