A group of internet hoax busters goes on a team-building retreat to Whiskey Flats, Oregon, and winds up finding out the hard way that not all urban legends — or in this case, a very rural one — are ruses in the new horror outing Get Gone. Writer/director Michael Thomas Daniel’s first narrative feature is a thrilling film that combines a few different horror subgenres and puts a fresh spin on them.
The Maxwells are a family that has lived on government property illegally for about 30 years. Drinking the water in that area that has been poisoned because of fracking and drilling for oil has caused some defects for the adult children of Don (Robert Miano of Firestarter) and his wife Mama (Lin Shaye). Eldest son Patton (Weston Cage Coppola) and younger son Apple (Bailey Coppola) have a skin condition, but that is the least of their problems.
Legend has it that the boys are monsters, and that snapping a photo or shooting footage of them spells danger. Naturally, that leads to a couple of the hoax busters venturing out on their own against group plans. Meanwhile, the rest of the hoax busting group sets up tents for the first night of their outdoor retreat, which is headed by high-energy Craig Eubanks (Adam Bitterman of House of Wax and The Exorcist TV series). Combine that with the aggressive threat of drilling company roughnecks coming to kick the Maxwells off the land, and the family has some turf defending to do.
Daniel combines slasher, hillbilly, and cabin in the woods horror elements to great effect. Once the internet video team members are out of their element, the film gets discomfiting quickly and stays there. The focus is usually on the tension of the chase rather than graphic gore gags, with the director also opting for eeriness and suspense over jump scares.
Most of the characters are not mere fodder for the slaughter, but well fleshed-out ones worthy of being rooted for. Sure, you just know the sexist jackasses of the group are going to get what’s coming to them, but the female characters are written strongly and sympathetically.
The cast is first-rate throughout. Miano and Shaye are dynamic, playing off one another and the other actors marvelously. Rico E. Anderson (of The Skeleton Key) is terrific as Ranger Rico, a man trapped between feeling sympathy for the family’s plight early on in the film but who comes to some dreaded realizations later on. Emily Shenaut as Abbey Rose and Brittany Benita as Rene are especially solid, especially in a scene in which their characters find themselves reunited after being petrifyingly separated. Their shared terror feels realistic.
Although viewers are given some back story to the Maxwell family and we certainly spend time learning about what drives the members, there are certain questions about them that some may come away with. If Get Gone finds the success it deserves, we may learn further secrets about this killer clan.
Get Gone screens on Sunday, December 15 at Another Hole in the Head Film Fest, which runs December 1st –15th at New People Cinema in San Francisco.
(4 / 5)