August 2, 2018 The Crescent (Movie Review)
The sea is the edge of the world. Here, tragedies haunt the tall beach grasses surrounding one particular home, built on a slice of shoreline where underwater rock formations have led to many a horrible boating accident. In The Crescent, everything is not always as it initially seems, and this haunting new Psychological Horror offering arrives to select Cineplex Theatres across Canada for a one-week engagement that begins Friday, August 10, 2018, thanks to Raven Banner Releasing. There will also be a special, one-night-only screening of the film at The Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, August 15th. For those of us not in O Canada, The Crescent arrives to Amazon Prime, iTunes, and VOD starting September 4th.
In The Crescent, young mother and artist, Beth (Danika Vandersteen in her acting debut), is struggling under the weight of a debilitating depression thanks to the tragic loss of her husband (Andrew Gillis: 4 Quarters short 2015, Werewolf 2016). On the advice of her mother, she takes her precious toddler son, Lowen (Woodrow Graves: Wind Through a Tree short 2015), to a stunning, family-owned beach-house, in search of spiritual healing.
Feeling numb but hopeful that the sea air will rejuvenate her thirst for life, Beth goes about her days caring for her adorably golden-haired, brown-eyed little boy. Although, amost immediately upon their arrival, the mother and son meet a local Hippie-type, Joseph (Terrance Murray in his acting debut), who maintains a mysterious air about him and continues to crop up at the most unexpected of times. Meanwhile, another local, tween Sam (Britt Loder: The Good Doctor series), is a sweet beachgoer who takes a particular interest in little Lowen.
As their time at the shore continues and Beth seems to struggle more and more with sleep, bizarre occurrences begin to mount up: from a doorbell that won’t stop ringing to a random, stray cat that looks suspiciously like the family’s deceased feline, Black Fly. Perhaps everything that is happening here at The Crescent house is much more than it initially seems and, like the delicate patterns in one of Beth’s paper marbling creations or the endless waves of the sea itself, there are layers of mystery hiding within this gorgeous landscape.
Clocking in at approximately 100 minutes in-length, The Crescent was directed by Nova Scotia Filmmaker Seth A Smith (Lowlife 2012, Wind Through a Tree short 2015) and written by Darcy Spidle (Lowlife 2012, The Brym short 2016). Staying true to the director’s roots, the film was shot on location in stunning Nova Scotia and presents some truly breathtaking Canadian landscapes and seascapes.
For years, Horror has been utilizing the “cabin in the woods” as the ultimate in terrifying locales, but The Crescent introduces a haunting tale set by the sea. To be fair, however, it is not the landscape itself that is to be feared here, but rather, the terrors of the sea as well as those that lie within each of us, the psychological quagmires that arise from lost love. In fact, the film does a haunting job at weaving a tale that is Psychological Horror of the utmost level, intelligent, artful, and with visual analogies embedded throughout its seascapes and Ebru (paper marbling) artwork. Artists will love every small nuance of this film!
Perhaps what is most intriguing about the behind-the-scenes of The Crescent is not its multi-layered script and bizarrely twisting tale, but rather, the fact that this story is so flawlessly portrayed by such a small cast – many of whom are amateurs. The film’s star, Danika Vandersteen, as despondent Beth, makes her film debut, and does a wonderful job of depicting a young mother mired in her own sadness, unable to properly harness the energy needed to care for her toddler son. Vandersteen’s understated portrayal of the lead character allows for a flawless transition when the film does eventually twist in on itself. Though, perhaps, it is little Woodrow Graves, as Lowen, who absolutely steals the show. He is adorably energetic and with an angelic little voice, and though he doesn’t so much “act” as simply toddle around as little ones do, he is perfect at every step.
Credit where credit is due, the glue of The Crescent relies heavily on the performance of one actress, and that is young Britt Loder, as Sam. Without her lines, without her injection into the storyline, this would be another film that raises more questions than it can possibly answer. Instead, her gentle delivery is haunting and ties the entire tale together, weaving a piece of Psychological Horror that speaks of the ghosts of those we have loved and left behind – on both sides of the mortal coil.
The beauty of The Crescent is that each viewer will walk away with something unique; as with so many intelligent and artful films, what you bring to the experience affects what you take away. While the story is one that winds and twists slowly, and viewers should not expect any action-packed scenes or exploitative gore, the film is an over all artfully intelligent experience and a fully unique take on Horror, psychological or otherwise.
It is no stretch of the imagination as to why The Crescent was so successful at the Toronto International Film Festival, nor why director Seth A. Smith is doing Canada so proud! A beautifully haunting tale of loss that will tug at your heartstrings and haunt your seaside evenings, CrypticRock give The Crescent 4 of 5 stars.