An apocalyptic event has taken place leaving David (Tim Kaiser) alone in the woods with little more than a pocket knife, a few meager supplies, and a battered old tent. As if that wasn’t bad enough there are things, evil things, waiting just outside the tent to get him the minute he lets his guard down.
What caused the event? How did David get in the woods? What are those things that come out at night? Who is the mysterious young woman who shows up, a stranger who seems to know David on an intimate level?
What’s happening? And why?
It’s a safe bet that these and other questions will be running through your mind as you watch The Tent, just as it’s a pretty sure thing that you will feel extremely frustrated with most of the film for not providing any substantial answers. You may need to hit rewind a few times to figure out some things, but you also may need to just let some things go and leave it up to writer/director Kyle Couch to sort it all out in the end.
The good news is the ending of The Tent almost makes up for the confusion and frustration it puts your though for the first hour or so of the movie. Almost. Maybe the director of The Tent is trying to make his movie experience feel like The Sixth Sense, the kind of movie that shocks you with the ending, but then makes perfect sense when you go back and see how the clues to that ending were there for you to see all along. Only the ending of The Tent is nowhere nearly as effective as the end of The Sixth Sense, and as a result not as compelling to watch a second time.
It’s usually at this point that the plot of the movie being reviewed is talked about in-depth, but that doesn’t work with The Tent because too many details will spoil the ending that Couch has crafted for his audience. It’s fair game, though, to take a look at some of the problems with the movie that could have been improved upon by the director without spoiling his big surprise. Like the editing together of the various chapters, he’s trying to put together to tell his story. About a half dozen different plot threads are running through the fabric of The Tent, some of them crucial to the ending, and some that feel like they were put there just to distract you. While any film with a ‘twist’ at the end depends on the audience chasing a few red herrings to keep them distracted, it’s a delicate balance between teasing the viewers and frustrating them. And if the audience gets too frustrated with The Tent, they may not want to stick around to see how it all ends.
For example, there is a moment in the movie where David injures his ankle by stepping into one of his animal traps. It’s a pretty nasty wound that leaves a hunk of metal sticking disturbingly out of his ankle. It’s the kind of injury that would put most out of commission for a while, but David seems to be able to hobble along pretty well right after it happens like he only sprained his ankle instead of catching it in a trap and skewering it with a hunk of rusty metal. It gives him a lot more trouble when he’s trying to run away from the evil things the next day, but the unexplained inconsistency of his injury may have some reaching for the STOP button on their remote.
But don’t. By the time David’s leg starts to hurt badly enough to make him stop, you’ve already invested a lot of time in The Tent and (this isn’t a spoiler) the end is in sight, even if all the answers you need aren’t there waiting for you.
- John Black, The Tent