Tuesday, July 3, 2018

In short: Raccoon Valley (2018)

A military plane carrying some nasty infectant crashes right into the water reservoir of an American small town named Raccoon Valley. Our protagonist is a deaf and socially isolated woman (Terri Czapleski, who is pretty damn fantastic) who doesn’t notice the ensuing evacuation measures and soon finds herself quarantined in town with a handful of the infected. But then, even if she weren’t deaf, this is a rather quiet apocalypse for the place, the infected not turning into rage zombies but white-faced, black-eyed ghouls who loom menacingly in the background more than anything else. Once she has realized the gravity of the situation, our heroine will do her best to find her way to safety.

Apparently made for $175 – and a lot of goodwill, favours, and free work I’d imagine – this little gem was written, directed, produced, scored, edited, sound designed and visually magicked by one Turner Clay. It’s an excellent example of how great indie genre filmmaking in the digital age can be if the people involved are talented and focused. And focused is the watch word here. This is a film that seems to know exactly what story it wants to tell and then tells it in the most economical manner possible, leaving out all distractions and diversions that detract from many an example of indie horror in this budget range. Consequently, the film ends up on a lean 65 minute running time – which is exactly as long as it needs to be.

There is so much to love here: from a visual style that often makes highly effective and intelligent use of limited lighting as well as of autumn colours (always an easy way to get bonus points from me, I admit), over Clay’s sound design which blends our heroine’s memories of sounds with the noises surrounding her she can’t hear and a dark ambient soundtrack, the sense of isolation and melancholy yet also persistence in the face of danger surrounding our heroine, to the effective looming of the infected, everything in the film comes together incredibly well. Not incredibly well for $175, mind you, but so well as to make Raccoon Valley exactly the film it wants to be.

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