A scene from Ignition Films’ Break on Through (contributed image).

Review: Local film Break on Through is an ambiguous thriller that will linger in your mind

It screens Oct. 18 in Red Deer

A booming noise is coming from the sky, knocking everyone’s power out.

That’s all the panicked characters in the film Break on Through know as they flee from cities to hide in the countryside.

What are they running from? They aren’t sure. And we, viewers, can only guess at the ominous possibilities while watching this eerie, locally made thriller from Red Deer’s Ignition Films.

The 75-minute movie, shot at an Alix farmhouse, will be screened on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Welikoklad Event Centre in downtown Red Deer. It’s definitely worth catching for more than just glimpses of pretty Central Alberta scenery.

There are strong, engrossing performances — especially from lead Amber Bissonnette, of Calgary — as well as an intriguingly ambiguous plot line, crafted by local writer/producer Matt Grue.

The film opens with a shot of clouds in a wide expanse of sky. An adult and child are driving along a rural highway. The woman and boy, who’s not her son, run low on gas, and pull over by what looks like an empty rural dwelling — only to discover that others have shown up there first.

The strangers include a father and teenage daughter, a man who has lost his family, and a young couple. Tensions grow as the strange noises become more frequent, causing some individuals to lose their cool, and others to flashback to disquieting experiences.

It’s hard to reveal more without giving too much away. Suffice to say the silent boy (Minyang Monybany Minyang Dau), who appears to know more than he can — or will — divulge, causes a polarizing effect on the others.

While this indie film starts out seeming like something you might have seen before (there’s an argumentative exchange early on that doesn’t quite ring true), the suspense gradually builds in the second half. And director Dustin Clark uses sparse dialogue and mysterious occurrences to create an original atmospheric thriller that pulls you in.

There are beautiful shots of falling leaves in a dreamy garden, and subtle, affecting exchanges — especially between Bissonnette’s character and the teenage girl (Shelayna Christante), as well as the man separated from his wife and daughter (Sebastian Kroon).

Eventually, a mysterious intruder arrives and comes on rather too villainously. But this tonal lapse is made up for by the film’s underplayed shower scene that’s so intense, it’s hard to watch, and by the engrossing finale.

Break on Through ends abruptly, with a lot of questions hanging in the air. This might leave some people confused.

The ambitious local film certainly demands more from viewers than a typical Hollywood thriller. Everything is not spelled out. This catastrophic story line must be pieced together through dropped verbal clues and symbolism, but once assembled, it will linger in your mind.

Tickets are $5 at the door. There will be a question and answer session with the cast and crew following the 7:30 p.m. screening.


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