Directed by: Don Swanson
Written by: Don Swanson
Genre: Drama / Horror
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Occurrence at Mills Creek
As Clara and Cassandra watch, their Mother passes away. This is what sets in motion the events of this title, Occurrence at Mills Creek. Initially I thought this was going to be a movie about family tragedy and I was correct. But also not. Family does play an important role in this title, but this is also possibly a supernatural story or maybe even a story of a mental breakdown. This short film from Don Swanson may actually be all three. A trinity. All 3 scenarios are not only possible but completely plausible. And that's the problem. So much, too little and very disjointed.
This title isn't really a linear story, but not so out of whack you can't get an idea of a time frame. It's when a second tragedy hits the family that things start to cross lines. I guess I could say the third tragedy, if you want to consider the current situation with Clara and Cassandra's father. But even the misfortunes of this particular family doesn't explain much other than a dysfunctional back story. But Occurrence at Mills Creek looks really pretty. In a nightmarish sort of way. The idea here is to go for a awesomely chilling vibe, and this title has it.
As I progressed from scene to scene, I kept expecting something awful, even more awful than what had already happened to take place. Although the climax could be considered the right amount of awful it never really met my expectations. The flashback, and flashback further sequences kept things from correctly coming together and the uneven acting cemented that feeling. Clara manages to really give a not quite right performance, this helped keep the tension high. But some of the scenes during the flashbacks just felt a little forced. And even after watching this title twice, I was still left with so many questions.
I believe jealousy is a huge plot point. Sister jealousy that goes a little far. I also gathered that death is a huge factor in this short, especially the second death. But was this a Serpent And The Rainbow kind of story? I really can't ask that many questions without giving away potentially major spoilers. I'm left with asking myself why I should be scratching my head as much as I am. If things feel this disjointed, something is obviously off a little. There's a difference between slipping things in, for an audience to notice later; and being completely numbed to what you're seeing because you have to think so hard.
In it's defense, Occurrence at Mills Creek, the short film, is meant to be the first act of a feature film. Or something like that. So I'm expected to be content with not everything being answered. But that makes little sense, because this was submitted as a complete short film. It's not as if I was left with a cliff hanger, I was left with holes and gaps the size of a dump truck. But there is real potential here for a good film. I can feel that much. It just needs to be finished and put together with all the pieces present. My favorite scene? The church. 100 percent.