Across The River Movie Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Monster Pictures
Directed by Lorenzo Bianchini
Written by Lorenzo Bianchini, Michela Bianchini
2013, 85 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 14th July 2014
Marco as Marco Marchese
Forrest marshals must hate horror films. Whenever their beloved land is portrayed on screen it never ends well for the poor people who dare go down to the woods. Lorenzo Bianchini’s Across The River is the latest in this leafy genre and does little to convince audiences that woodland areas aren’t still a place of dread. However, with his eye for psychological terror and mind-game surrealism, Bianchini does at least manage to present the idea that terror isn’t always a bitey, nasty, physical thing. Sometimes it’s psychological too. Which is progress... sort of.
For the most part, Across The River is a one man show. It follows a scientist whose job is to track and tag animals deep in the woods. He completes his work slowly and carefully, taking frequent notes and voice memos and making you question whether the time we’re spending with him is leading to anything worthwhile. Before that question can be answered however, our man stumbles upon a discarded dress mysteriously floating down river and decides to investigate. Once across the body of water he discovers a desolate village that appears to have been abandoned in a quite a hurry. Remnants of past inhabitants remain; photographs, discarded tools, empty homes and as the rain pours down, our unfortunate hero finds himself trapped in his new and ghostly surroundings.
Stark, moody and pensive, Across The River is an experiment of a horror movie, moving at its own pace and playing by its own rules. Mainstream horror fans may find themselves struggling to resist a quick Twitter check-up during its first, rather uneventful sequences and even when things pick up momentum, it quickly becomes clear that this is an attack on the senses rather than gross-out affair. However, as isolation takes hold of our poor man on the ground and the ghosts of his haunted surroundings begin to make themselves known, Bianchini’s real talents emerge. A few subtle and chilling glimpses of Across The River’s hidden evil and a delicate yet terrifyingly real use of diegetic sound send shivers down the spine and captivate at last.
While this Italian indie may be a little too understated and arty for those more accustomed to the slash-now, explain-later bells-and-whistles movies usually associated with the horror genre, it undeniably shows promise. At times, Bianchini manages to conjure raw unease and paranoia not felt in the woods since three student filmmakers delved into the Black Hills of Maryland in search of a witch. Like a good horror baddie, Bianchini will likely sneak up on us with his next movie and knock us all for ten when we least expect it. Beware.