It’s not often that I am drawn to Aussie produced television or movies. Hypocritical I know, yet there was something about the initial premise of The Clearing that immediately had me intrigued. Based on J.P. Pomare’s book, The Clearing is a dark thrilling dive into the underbelly of a small town’s dark history and a cult that has you guessing on their intentions at every turn.
After a local girl is presumed kidnapped Freya begins a psychological spiral into her long-suppressed memories as a child member of The Kindred, a very rare female led cult. Freya has done her best to put her past behind her and focus on being the best mother she can be without the torment of that past affecting her at every turn.
As the story unfolds, The Clearing makes you question what you’re watching and why it is having such an effect. The first episode gradually pulls you in as the lines between past and present quickly begin to blur. Every time the people of the Kindred are on screen you cannot help but loathe them and what they are doing, helped along greatly by the score and brilliantly shot scenes my sense of unease kept me questioning.
On the other side you have Freya, who feels lost and tormented while living in a perpetual state of fear for not only her son but also wanting to do the right thing and help. Her moments felt calmer and you can sense her despair thanks to a lighter score highlighted by moments of intensity to instill in you Freya’s terror.
I talk about the feel of The Clearing as it is not something I usually expose myself too. Anything too dramatic quickly loses my interest and gets shelved never to be seen again. The Clearing is a haunting cerebral thriller that lives rent-free in my mind. The story is multi-layered and made me work for my understanding and while I’m sure I have gotten many aspects of it wrong I am now positioned and invested to continue the story to its conclusion.
The Clearing boasts a stellar Australian cast including the ever-loved Miranda Otto, Teresa Palmer and Guy Pierce, each at the top of their craft. Beautifully shot in Victoria, showrunners have used the quiet tranquillity of the Australian bush to great effect. It relies heavily on that sense of isolation to build the tension with a score to tug at your emotions pulling every which way.
I have nothing but praise for The Clearing at this stage as I wasn’t expecting it to grab or affect me in the way that it has. Maybe being a parent to young daughters has something to do with it I am not sure. Be ready to ask yourself some questions.
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