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Beacon Point (2016) Review

"All things considered, this indie thriller was an enjoyable film"

by Rachel Wilford

I attended the premiere of Beacon Point this last Friday and went into it with somewhat neutral expectations, considering that I admittedly don’t have too much experience with indie sci-fi thrillers. I will say that this low budget film disappointed in the fact that it was slightly unclear in its attempt for a cohesive storyline. However, it did exceed expectations in that what it lacked in story, it made up for in acting and character development.

Beacon Point is about a group of hikers who embark on a ten-day hike along the Appalachian Trail. Hiking guide Drake Jacobs (Jon Briddell) leads Zoe (Rae Olivier), Dan (Eric Goins), and brothers Brian (Jason Burkey) and Cheese (RJ Shearer) deep into the woods. But as strange things begin happening along the way and the group suddenly finds themselves lost, the hikers start uncovering secrets that threaten their lives.

The film starts off strong, introducing each character carefully and cleverly. We get to see little pieces of their personalities and backgrounds that keep us interested when bad things start happening to them. The character development of this story was undeniably strong, and I personally believe that it was the most solid aspect of the film as a whole. In an 85-minute film, it is difficult to quickly connect the audience to the characters, and in a sci-fi thriller such as this, it is especially important because if the audience does not care enough about the characters to be phased when unfortunate things happen to them, then what’s the point? Where some films may fail at this element,Beacon Point succeeded in a candid, offhand manner. The revelations of each character are seemingly effortless, and what is revealed about each humanizes the characters in a way that compels the audience to care when they start getting picked off one by one.

Beacon Point
Directed by Eric Blue
Cast Rae Olivier, Jon Briddell, Eric Goins, Jason Burken, RJ Shearer
Release Date 10 June 2016
Rachel's Grade: C+

However, the characters would be nothing without their actors, which I must mention. Rae Olivier lit up the screen with her fearless portrayal of the lead role and rightfully dominated the film. Jon Briddell played his troubled, felonious character with obvious expertise. Jason Burkey and RJ Shearer both had refreshing and engaging performances as well. I specifically enjoyed the comedic relief of Eric Goins’ Dan. His portrayal of the goofball, oafish character was entertaining and fluent. I truly hope each of these actors land some roles that launch their careers in the near future.

The main complaint I have about Beacon Point is unfortunately something that must be the driving force of every film, regardless of the genre or the budget: the idea. While strange occurrences happening to a group of hikers on a wilderness trail can be an intriguing concept for a movie, unfortunately Beacon Point’s execution of this idea just slightly missed the mark. We find out that ancient Indian spirits are behind the strange sicknesses, deaths, and other supernatural incidences that befall the hikers on their journey. But that’s where it gets confusing…randomly, an alien enters the scene during a flashback scene, giving the audience the idea that maybe aliens are to blame for what is happening to the hikers. That one alien image alone is enough to confuse the idea completely, simply because it throws things out of whack and because the execution of the portrayal of the Indian spirits is not strong enough. There is a lot of intense music, whispering and murmuring, rustling in the trees, and inflicted pain on behalf of the characters to indicate the presence of the spirits. But there is not enough hard evidence of the entities themselves actually being Indian spirits for the audience to truly grasp and accept that that is what is going on. So when the alien is suddenly introduced, an already slightly confused audience becomes drastically more confused, just because of this one image. Unfortunately, these elements detract from the overall likeableness of the film.

However, all things considered (budget, actors, film duration, idea, execution, etc.), this indie thriller was an enjoyable film overall that may make you think twice before camping in the woods with a bunch of strangers for ten days.

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