January 1, 2019 Rust Creek (Movie Review)
When a faulty GPS sends a young woman into the backroads of Kentucky, her unfortunate luck becomes a fight for survival in the brand-new IFC Midnight offering Rust Creek, a Drama/Thriller that arrives to select theaters on Friday, January 4, 2019.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend and college senior Sawyer (Hermione Corfield: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016, Stars Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi 2017) has a job interview in Washington, D.C. Keeping that information under wraps, she heads out onto the highway where a traffic jam leads her onto the backroads of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Somewhat predictably, her GPS leads her into the middle of nowhere, and next thing Sawyer knows she’s pulling over to consult a proper, printed map.
Almost instantly, she encounters a pair of brothers, Hollister (Micah Hauptman: Everest 2015, Homeland series) and Buck (Daniel R. Hill: The Resident series, Tiger 2018), who clearly have something to hide. When one of the pair gets a little handsy and her safety is threatened, Sawyer fights back, stabs one of the men, and then races off into the woods to escape.
With an injury of her own weighing her down, she fights to keep going before eventually encountering help in the form of the questionable Lowell (Jay Paulson: Mad Men series, Electric Sheep series), a meth cooker. In a world where no one is exactly as they seem, Sawyer must make some quick decisions if she hopes to make it out of the forest alive.
Clocking in at 108 minutes in-length and proudly filmed in Kentucky, Rust Creek was directed by Jen McGowan (Touch short 2010, Kelly & Cal 2014) and was written by Julie Lipson (The Snow Queen short 2011, Bear short 2018) and Stu Pollard (Nice Guys Sleep Alone 1999, Keep Your Distance 2005). It also features Sean O’Bryan (Vantage Point 2008, Olympus Has Fallen 2013) as Sheriff O’Doyle, and Jeremy Glazer (Letters from Iwo Jima 2006, My Christmas Love TV movie 2016) as Deputy Katz.
Proud to feature a talented and largely female crew, including its director and main star, Rust Creek is a solid Drama-Thriller. In her role as Sawyer, Corfield puts up a hell of a fight whenever confronted, even when outnumbered, creating a sassy, educated character who is no shrinking violet. In her more emotional scenes, we feel her desperation, sadness, and inner-struggle to make the appropriate choices necessary to stay alive. In one particular scene, after she has searched for a cell phone signal for hours and her phone’s battery unceremoniously dies, the viewer is fully able to empathize with her feelings of hopelessness and tears of frustration. In this, Corfield beautifully toes the line to portray a young female lead who is empowered and refuses to be immediately defeated, and yet who has an emotional side, as well.
Her male cohorts depict a myriad of roles, with Hauptman and Hill playing the proverbial ‘bad guys,’ while O’Bryan does a wonderful job of bringing to life a sleazy, small-town sheriff. Without saying too much, O’Bryan is able to dance across a fine-line wonderfully, creating the film’s biggest twist. Glazer is his good-hearted and pure-intentioned foil, the small-town deputy that the world needs more of. However, as far as the male characters go, Paulson’s oxymoronic Lowell steals the show. A man living in a dilapidated trailer in the woods, cooking meth for a living, Lowell is the wild card in this entire tale; he is a solid reminder that we should never make assumptions.
The plot of Rust Creek is solid, though it leans more heavily toward the dramatic aspects of its tale than a traditional Thriller. While there’s nothing wrong here, the film is still a fairly commonplace entry into the field of Drama-Thrillers with some slight survivalist and crime elements. Truth be told, a shorter runtime would help greatly to maintain the film’s momentum, otherwise, there are no blatant flaws or reasons to nitpick this film apart. In short, it is what it is!
Set amongst a beautifully-wooded landscape and featuring an off-kilter hero, Rust Creek is an entirely solid offering. With a good cast and lovely cinematography, anyone who loves a character-driven Drama/Thriller is apt to enjoy their time spent here. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Rust Creek 3.5 of 5 stars.