After ample helpings of the brutal and abstract, Midnight Madness was ready to lull attendees into a trance with Seth A. Smith's The Crescent.
A mother (Danika Vandersteen) moves to her family seaside home with her toddler (Woodrow Graves) after the death of her husband.
This was a title I knew almost nothing about other than it was Canadian, but Peter was pretty high on it so I was eager to give it a shot. I am glad I did. Smith's sophomore effort was indeed a sedate, almost meditative affair, yet I was fully engaged throughout. This will no doubt not appeal to everyone, but I think those who clock into this are really going to dig it.
|Dannika Vandersteen & Woodrow Graves in The Crescent|
Mixing the washed out hues of a dreary seaside with the visually stunning practice of paint marbling, The Crescent's aesthetic was really something to behold. When you add the music and sound design (like the persistence of the crashing sea) you end up with something akin to a fever dream. Smith's employment of different aspect ratios also gave the piece a pseudo-documentary style to it at times. Lastly, the house in the film was incredibly unique and apparently, up until recently anyway, an Airbnb home.
I have to say that Smith must have been certifiable to make his two-year-old the star of his movie. Graves was in almost every frame and required to do a lot of acting, but somehow pulled it off. I can't even imagine how much patience and perseverance must have been required to get the footage that ended up onscreen. The chemistry between Vandersteen & Graves was so natural that I actually thought she must have been his mother in real life. And with the amount of stuff the kid gets into, I can imagine this would likely be a pretty stressful watch for any mother.
There was something inherently intimate about The Crescent, yet I'm really glad I saw it on the big screen. I don't think it would have had the same effect if I watched it at home. In a world of big and boombastic horrors, Smith's little film shows there is still plenty room for whispering nightmares, as well.