Rust Creek on Netflix Gets Lost in The Woods
Written By Matthew Sadowski
The beginning of Rust Creek was wonderful to watch. It opens with the camera sweeping ominously over an endless woodland. Strained breathing can be heard as the image changes to a preppy young woman running on a school track. A melancholy song kicks in on the soundtrack with the foreboding lyrics “You write the course and I will run.” The woman takes off in a bright red jeep as the camera stalks her from above. She travels down isolated country roads whose trees seem to swallow her whole. All of this atmosphere foreshadows a catalytic danger that the young student will soon encounter in the woods, forcing her to adapt to “the course” that will be set for her. The title Rust Creek even suggests the power of nature to change and corrupt.
The woman, Sawyer (Hermione Corfield), is a Kentucky college student who has just been invited to an important job interview in D.C. On the drive there, Sawyer takes an alternate route to beat traffic, but gets lost on an Appalachian road. When she stops just outside a small town, she is nearly assaulted by two men, the conniving Hollister (Micah Hauptman) and his dim-witted brother Buck (Daniel R. Hill). Sawyer escapes into the woods, but is now bleeding from a badly hurt leg. As word of a missing person reaches the no-nonsense Sheriff (Sean O’Bryan), and a local meth cook Lowell (Jay Paulson) gets involved, Sawyer’s danger only grows.
It is at this point where the movie loses the atmosphere it had carefully crafted. The director, Jen McGowan, appears to have been more interested in the survival aspect of the story than the more conventional crime aspects. Unfortunately, this becomes the majority of the plot. The dialogue is all shot conventionally, with none of the careful framing or attention to pacing that made the opening so captivating. The performances are solid, but there is little depth to the cast’s portrayals. Even the action scenes are frequently cut in such a way that reactions of the characters cannot be fully captured.Rust Creek becomes torn between contemplation and plot, themes and action. I was left more interested in the film that wasn’t there, that could have been, instead of the film that is. Maybe I was overthinking the beginning, but I enjoyed it more because I did.
Directed by: Jen McGowan
Starring: Hermione Corfield, Jay Paulson, Sean O’Bryan, Micah Hauptman, Daniel R. Hill
Streaming on: Netflix
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