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Occurrence at Mills Creek

USA 2020
produced by
Joe Fishel, Don Swanson for Spruce Films
directed by Don Swanson
starring Ava Psoras, Alexa Mechling, Betsy Lynn George, MaLynda Parker, Mary Sack, Carley Ward, Joe Fishel, Jace Armentrout, Ivana Kingston, John-Patrick Driscoll, Dana Langshaw, Grace Langshaw, J.P. Edwards, Brian Ceponis, Aubrey Hileman, Mia Zanotti, Cory Hika, Robert Alcorn, Rosie Koster, Rachel Rosinger, Kathy Ciesielski, Keith Otto, Lailanie Bautista, Erika Shrout, Val Porter, Keri Delacour, Myla Swanson, Grayson Wozniak, John W. Iwanonkiw, Mike Meighan, Taryn L. Hart, Naysa Altmeyer, Melissa Milanak, Jon Blackburn, Zena Zanotti, Mike White, Rachel Faas
written by Don Swanson, additional dialogue by Joe Fishel, Betsy Lynn George, Ava Psoras, music by Mark D'Errico

review by
Mike Haberfelner

15 year old Cassie (Alexa Mechling) has died under her older sister Clara's (Ava Psoras) watch, who has taken care of her ever since ever since their father Victor (Joel Fishel) has left them and their mum (Betsy Lynn George) has died - and even though Cassie's death was an accident, Clara feels responsible. It's at Cassie's wake and funeral that Victor tries to come back into Clara's life, but Clara won't have it - only to a few days later find out he's terminally ill, and before you know it, he dies too. But Clara has other problems as it seems, as Cassie and her mother seem to lure her to the land of the death - and the problem here is Clara doesn't know whether their lures are real or not, or whether reality's real, heck, even whether her suicidal tendencies are real. Eventually, Clara starts investigating, and finds out about a very dark family secret - and now she has to wonder if knowing about it is actually helping or hurting her ...

 

Now Occurrence at Mills Creek isn't your typical straightforward shocker, it has layers upon layers of reality stacked upon one another, doesn't always tell things in a chronological order, and at times even seems to contradict itself and lie to the audience - and all this is why Occurrence at Mills Creek is such a strong movie, because it doesn't look for easy answers, because it doesn't try to explain things away, because it does leave it to the audience to make up their own story, fill the (intentional) gaps with their own imagination. And while the direction seems to drift through the different narrative layers at ease and adds an atmosphere of unease to the proceedings, grounded performances by all involved make this one work rather beautifully.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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