Monday, January 06, 2014

Do Not See this Film Solo: A Movie Review

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Director/writer: Isaac Cravit.

Cast: Annie Clark, Daniel Kash, Richard Clarkin, Steven Love and Alyssa Capriotti.

Solo is a backwoods thriller, which was released late in 2013. The film primarily focuses on one character, Gillian (Annie Clark), and her overnight stay on an isolated island. Events take on a psychological element, when a stranger appears on the island. Solo is an indie feature with only a few characters. Still, there is suspense and a little mystery here as first time director Isaac Cravit delivers a compelling feature. A little more horror could have been introduced in this film, but Solo does deliver enough tension to warrant film fans' time.

The film begins and ends with the protagonist, Gillian. She has hopes of becoming a camp counsellour. However, she must pass an initiation rite, which leaves her alone on an island for two nights. The situation gets a little stranger when Gillian spots a girl in the bushes. Also, a man takes a little bit too much interest in her. And soon, a couple of difficult pasts are brought up in this taut thriller.

The character of Gillian is developed slowly over time. Initially, Gillian comes across as a flat character, on a couple of levels. She emotes little and says even less. There is very little backstory to help develop this character and Gillian reveals very little outside of a couple of lines. Over time, Gillian is given a backstory through dream sequences and flashbacks. These sequences help develop some of the film's intrigue. As well, a character arc develops, in which Gillian begins to overcome a family tragedy. This character will warm up to viewers after awhile.

The small production of this film makes it an indie feature. There are only a few characters in the film: Gillian, Ray (Daniel Kash) and a camp counsellour. You will be able to guess the villain fairly quickly as there are few characters to choose from. The film also uses only a few settings: a campground and the island. Most of the shooting takes place on the island, in the wild. These two elements keep the film fairly small. However, there is a lot of exterior shooting here, from director and writer Isaac Cravit. As well, Cravit manages to use some night shoots, which makes the film visually appealing. However, viewers should not expect complex, nor dialogue heavy scenes.

Solo is an intriguing film. The story focuses on psychological elements. Gillian is often dealing with a troubled past, while trying to stay alive on her two day camping trip. The psychological structure of other characters is also a concern. There are few horror elements here, until the finale. So, the blood effects are secondary and the focus here is on a character arc. Gillian must overcome the loss of a loved one. Also, Cravit's shooting style is a draw. The camera work is consistently entertaining; though, Dutch angles are unnecessary for such a thriller. Sideplots are revealed over time and this well paced development of characters and the story created a great deal of interest for this viewer.

Solo is available through several video-on-demand formats, with a theatrical showing upcoming (Feb. 28th, 2014, Toronto) and fans of thrillers should seek this one out. Small in production, Solo brings a few surprises in this compelling tale. The few characters in this title, also, clash well in an isolated setting. In the end, Solo brings a lot of suspense and mystery in its short, ninety minute runtime.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (good development of characters, very little violence, genre: psychological thriller).

A trailer for the film can be found at the film's fan page (Facebook):

Solo on Facebook

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