There’s something charming about small-budget films that try to tell a compelling story with the little they have available. While not everything manages to make it work the way they imagine due to those limitations; they do say that it breeds creativity. Sadly, that isn’t always the case as some projects have a big vision that is hard to translate with such restrictions. Dale Fabrigar‘s Reed’s Point sadly falls right into that category, as a film that had a good idea but didn’t know how to quite fill its runtime.
The film is on the shorter time, as it doesn’t even truly fill out a full 90 minutes. Even so, it still feels like it could’ve been cut down to a third given the premise of the story. After a tragic crash leads to the disappearance of a young girl at the hands of the Jersey Devil, two friends are on the hunt to find out what truly happened that day and cope with their grief. Most of the film is spent with Evan Adams‘ Alex and Sasha Anne‘s Sarah as they face the urban legend to uncover the truth.
It sounds like a decent storyline, especially as you witness the accident earlier in the film that sets up a mystery. We see the Jersey Devil kidnap someone while also managing to rip someone’s arm off with ease. While the costume isn’t going to fool anyone, the fact that it chose to abduct Madison Ekstrand‘s Kelsey does set up a curious mystery even if they spell out the twist early on. Sadly, it’s afterward that the film struggles to bring everything together.
After a time jump, Sarah and a surprisingly alive Alex–the film told us everyone died but suddenly he kind of appears out of nowhere–are investigating the events. Unable to cope with their grief, their convenient internships as journalists helps them chase a story they are told to leave behind. Without any supervision, the two head out investigate as they believe Kelsey is still alive out there somewhere. The base premise feels like Safety Not Guaranteed with a horror spin.
What happens in town is no one takes them seriously until one random person does and introduces them to Anthony Jensen‘s Hank, who’s by far the best part of the film with how much fun he has with the role. Most of the film after a short visit to a diner takes place in a forest. Yet, this isn’t a dense forest like in The Ritual that would make you forget where you are and drive you mad. It’s an open field with a few trees. Sadly, the production location took away from the “mystery” element they were going for with the fear of the Jersey Devil around the corner at all times. It takes away from the illusion that Alex suddenly panics and stumbles only to break his leg–an absolute random event that feels inserted just to further pad the story.
Even as the film nears its end, we suddenly get introduced to new characters, whose motivations are all over the place. Rather quickly, you learn that the Jersey Devil storyline is connected to a family feud which at least was hinted at earlier in the film. Yes, they technically set it up but the execution feels a bit sudden. The problem is that it’s not really a revelation by the characters but spelled out to them, which takes away from the initial pitch of the story. Rather than focusing on the Jersey Devil and them wandering the forest, seeing them investigate the town could’ve benefitted here to create more suspense.
What drags it down an extra peg is that the ending is quite a mess. Most of the film is padding and it’s already a shorter feature film, to begin with. We build up this one storyline to suddenly add a twist that doesn’t really connect to the core story. While yes, they technically tease it–even adding in a character that was just there for the sake of some extra gore–it doesn’t mix quite as well as they might’ve thought. The thing that makes it worse is that it pulls a Friday the 13th type of ending that made no sense. Especially in how the transition between the events prior feels completely disconnected.
Sasha Anne takes on the leading role in this story, but sadly her reactions don’t really feel connected to what’s happening at times. Some lines feel a bit phoned in and even after terrible things happen, she just seems oddly calm about it. Out of our main trio, Madison Ekstrand gets the most to do, as her character faces the most change throughout the story. As I pointed out earlier though, Jensen‘s Hank is the stand-out, as he is just having a blast with the role throughout and you can definitely see it come to life with his character.
At the end of the day, everyone involved with the film tried and gave it their best. You can see that they had fun with the project and wanted to bring the vision to life. I do think it may have benefitted from sticking to a shorter format, as the story could’ve benefitted from it. It describes itself as a psychological thriller and also acts as a creature feature, but it loses focus along the way. Reed’s Point simply tried to do too much with too little.