GenreBlast Film Festival Reviews: Reckoning and Cold Wind Blowing
By: Joseph Perry
The amazing indie thriller Reckoning is one of the absolute best films of 2019, anchored by Danielle Deadwyler’s superb performance as Lemon Cassidy, a wife and mother who lives on a small piece of land in Appalachia. The area she lives in has its own codes and laws, and when her husband goes missing after being sent on a dangerous mission by a local matriarch, Lemon must find him quickly before a villainous family takes its revenge on her and her young son.
I cannot stress enough how well executed this film is. Writers/directors Lane Skye and Ruckus Skye’s terrific debut feature is full of unique approaches to the revenge thriller genre, with dialogue that ranges from heart-warming to heartbreaking, from-out-of-left-field characters and twists, and more suspense than most recent blockbuster thrillers offer. Nothing is normal on the mountain on which Lemon and her family live, from the cruel, baking-obsessed head of one clan (Catherine Dyer of Stranger Things) to a bizarre cult that lives near Lemon’s home area, and the Skyes bring this unconventional, dark slice of rural America to life beautifully. Their direction is magnificent, and the cinematography by Sherman Johnson is a marvel to behold. Although the entire cast is great, this is Deadwyler’s film, and she absolutely owns her role as a mother who knows hardship and will do whatever she needs to so that she can protect her precious young son.
Reckoning won GenreBlast Film Festival’s Jury and Audience awards, and Deadwyler won the fest’s Best Actress, Feature Film award. All three awards are well-deserved, and this film is absolutely one that cinema lovers should have on their radars as it continues its film festival run and beyond.
From Canada hails the cabin-in-the-woods horror feature Cold Wind Blowing, which won GenreBlast’s Best Director, Feature Film award for Dionne Copland, who also wrote the screenplay. It has the basic set-up of a small group of friends — here including a brother and sister and a few exes — all set for a weekend of partying in a remote location, little knowing that they will soon be attacked by mysterious forces. Copland indeed helms the proceedings with a keen sense of suspense, but I had trouble with two aspects of the film. First off, the main characters tread the fine line of falling into the recent fright-film trap of mostly coming off as unlikeable people who give the audience no one for whom to root. Thankfully at least two characters save Cold Wind Blowing from going full-bore in that direction, but most of the other four are so wrapped up in following their ids that the characters come off as obnoxious. Secondly, these characters are so wrapped up in judging each other, being angry with one another, and arguing that the film often feels like a drama that happens to have horror elements rather than a full-fledged horror film. By my estimation, it was almost an hour watching the group members be mean to each other before the first real scare attempt occurred. Once the supernatural terror kicks in, though, Copland and her game cast deliver an exciting third act of scare-fare thrills.
Reckoning and Cold Wind Blowing screened at GenreBlast, which ran at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Virginia, from August 29–September 1.
Joseph Perry is one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast (whenitwascool.com/up-hill-both-ways-podcast/) and Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast (decadesofhorror.com/category/classicera/). He also writes for the film websites Diabolique Magazine (diaboliquemagazine.com), Gruesome Magazine (gruesomemagazine.com), The Scariest Things (scariesthings.com), Ghastly Grinning (ghastlygrinning.com), and Horror Fuel (horrorfuel.com), and film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope (videoscopemag.com) and Drive-In Asylum (etsy.com/shop/GroovyDoom).
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