A hardcore emotional journey that will scare and shock you to your core. With rich performances from the cast involved and a biting social commentary on our differences as humans and how that presents us to others, This Land solidifies itself as the next big horror movie you cannot miss.
The story revolves around Ava (Natalie Whittle) after suffering a horrific tragedy, decides to go away for the Fourth of July weekend with her husband Neil (Adam Burch) and son Dakota (Jerod Powers) they rent an abnormally large cabin and upon arrival and settling in, find that they have been double booked with another family Grady (John J. Piston) Barb (Mindy Motavon) and Regan (Taylor Joree Scorse) are on the complete opposite political spectrum, with the family having just killed a fresh deer. The two families could not be more opposite and after some hilarious and awkward scenes between the two of them, a cult lurking in the woods near the cabin starts attacking them to perform an ancient ritual.
Director Richard Greenwood Jr clearly understands trauma and what horrific events can do to the human brain. The character of Ava suffers hallucinations (which result in some truly terrific jump scares) and this is only amplified by Whittle’s incredibly portrayal as a grieving mother who has suffered probably the worst thing an expectant mother could ever go through. Signaling refuge through the promise of a weekend away and yanking it away from her seems unnecessarily cruel. yet offers an exploration of this characters strength and will. Bringing political opinions from two opposing families into this could have gone off the rails, fortunately the expertly guided hand of Greenwood Jr helps it create a conversation rather than a confusing discourse.
The performances from all involved are incredibly strong for this project. The stand out here is Whittle for the opening scene alone deserves all of the praise. The incredible mental strength she taps into to portray the grief that then turns into sheer determination is mesmerising. Burch provides the perfect and supportive husband who seems to understand as much as he can what is happening with his wife, and to his family, doubling down on the daggy-dad vibe with Dakota adding some comedic lifts that are needed when exploring something so dark and disturbing. The Moss family are perfectly cast with Motavon the standout, nearly stealing every scene she is in.
There is some incredibly cinematography in this film, particularly in the opening scene with a visual feast of fireworks that set the tone for the movie (IYKYK!) the cabin and forest are shot beautifully and help to offset the horrific scenes of the cult. There could have been a further exploration of the cult’s motivations, but really all eyes on Ava and her family trying to survive the Moss family and that situation is a far more interesting story.
This Land plants a solid focus on story telling and exploring trauma and what this can do when presented with an extremely uncomfortable situation that is only heightened by the threat of death. All the actors involved here bring their A game and help sell each families position, making it all the more satisfying when they are forced to unite and assist each other to survive. With rich cinematography and a running time of 1 hour and 47 minutes, this is one film you should not sleep on this year.
This Land is available on Digital and On Demand from March 10, 2023
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