REVIEW: ACROSS THE RIVER / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: LORENZO BIANCHINI / SCREENPLAY: LORENZO BIANCHINI, MICHELA BIANCHINI / STARRING: RENZO GARIUP, MARCO MARCHESE / RELEASE DATE: JULY 14TH
Across the River, from Italian filmmaker Lorenzo Bianchini, is a traditional ghost story in the fullest sense. Like The Woman in Black, it functions mostly on suggestion and whispers of the paranormal to spine-tingling effect. Unlike its American counterparts, Across the River is rooted in European horror, with nods to Dario Argento and Bergman.
The plot, what little there is, follows Marco Contrada (Marchese), an ethologist performing a periodic wildlife census, living out of his RV and fitting cameras to trees and animals. His dictaphone is the predominant source of dialogue.
The film, like the classic point-and-click adventure Myst, draws its scares from the unknown, from the environment and from the pressing sense of isolation while Marco pieces the mystery together from fragments. Indeed, it’s a film you could imagine translating well to a first person mystery in the style of Gone Home.
The punky monochrome film from the animal-mounted camera reminds you just what made The Blair Witch Project so unnerving. It functions especially well against the long shots which so evocatively capture the ethereal woodland setting of the Italian/Slovenian border. However, all this flitting between handheld and static cameras does get disorientating towards the end, and detracts from the beautiful and creepy shots of the trees and village.
Across the River is an unsettling film, with a simple yet melancholic score that is a reminder of what made horror so effective in the first place. It’s a good old-fashioned ghost story that’s a refreshing change from big budget, over-the-top American horror.
Extras: Across the River - Short Documentary / Introducing 'A Night with Friends' by Daniele Trani / A Night With Friends / Trailer