Writer-director Nicolas Pesce’s debut feels unnervingly like a Diane Arbus photo that’s been stretched into a film. Which is to say, it’s unnerving — a shadowy black-and-white (well, black-and-gray) image of an older, less homogenized, more frequently grotesque world, where even beauty and innocence may serve to heighten a sense of overwhelming dread and/or impending doom. Viz: Why is that pretty little girl so calm about picking shards of glass from the mangled face of the wounded man chained up in her barn – the same man who murdered her mother just hours before? And don’t tell me it’s because Mom, a former surgeon before she became a former person, taught her daughter all about bodies and dissection. No, the real reason is the lack of Facebook — or at least, the sense of community and connection that Facebook purports to provide, even to people living in rural isolation. People who must otherwise rely on their families, their silent fathers and (Blessed) mothers. And when those fail…it isn’t pretty, no matter how artfully shot. Pesce seems intent on overwhelming the part of the brain that asks critical questions by creating a distracting tension between gruesome events and the elegant depiction of same. It mostly works, certainly enough to draw out, slowly and steadily, the requisite pity and horror.
Length: 1 hour, 17 minutes