August 21, 2023

BRIGHTWOOD Doesn't Explain Itself

2022 / 84 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Sometimes the best explanation is no explanation. That’s the first thing I appreciate about Brightwood.

Jen and Dan (Dana Berger & Max Woertendyke) are an unhappily married couple out for a morning jog, fighting about something that happened the night before. Their run leads them down a path to a lake. However, after doing a lap, they can no longer find that path, and each time they look for a way out, they end up at the same spot. More ominously, they aren’t quite alone.

What makes this especially engaging is who’s stalking them, which I’m not gonna reveal because it’s a nifty surprise, as is the distorted loop of time they appear to be stuck in. Writer-director Dane Elcar wisely provides no explanation for what’s happening to his characters, which somehow makes it increasingly creepy, culminating in a haunting (and brutal) conclusion.

"I don't care if he followed you home. You can't keep him."
The other thing I appreciate about Brightwood is its minimalism. We’re provided just enough exposition about its only two characters to make them seem human (if not particularly likable). Not only that, Elcar manages to do quite a lot with very little. Aside from a few scenes of nasty gore, there are no special effects, fancy editing or gratuitous jump scares. The whole thing even takes place entirely during an innocuous sunny morning. But despite a few stretches that are a bit too repetitive, he builds tension quite effectively.

No one’s likely to walk away from Brightwood thinking they’ve seen a masterpiece. But while never flat-out scary, the film is quietly unnerving, mainly because it doesn’t spoon-feed the story to its audience. Viewers who don’t need every question answered might find this low budget effort pretty rewarding.


“THE POND” - Original short that was the basis for this film.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Dane Elcar, actors Max Woertendyke & Dana Berger.



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