Zoe is a young woman looking to live life on her own terms. She has quit, or at least intends to, so that she can avoid falling into the same work-a-day drone trap her father did. The first step, or rather many steps, is a ten day hiking trip along the legendary Appalachian Trail. She will be accompanied by two half brothers (Brian and Sam aka Cheese), a computer programmer (Dan), and a trail guide with a VERY sketchy past (Drake).
They begin their ten day trek, but rather than continue traveling along the marked trail, they are led off trail by Drake. He justifies this by claiming that it will make for a better and more exciting hiking trip since taking the main trail really doesn’t require any skill or assistance from a guide. And while Robert Frost may have waxed poetic about taking the road less traveled by, this group of hikers will learn that they would have been better served to remain on the path.
As they stray further from the path and go deeper into the woods it becomes more obvious that they are not alone…and I don’t mean other hikers. Someone or something is watching them, observing them, terrorizing them.
Eric Blue was at the helm for this minimalist sci-fi flick, that he co-wrote with Traci Carroll. The pair created a science fiction story that capably relied less on big effects and more on tension and paranoia. I would like the story to have been a bit longer, and allow the pressure to build a bit more. i do like the mixing of extra terrestrial and Native American lore, as it kind of ties into the whole South and Central American “hot rods of the gods” legends. The development of the characters doesn’t really seem to rely on their collective pasts as much as it relies on the evolution of the group’s dynamic at present. Any glimpse into a character’s past seems to function more as the motivation for the hiking trip than anything else. However, things from Zoe’s past do come into play a little bit more in various ways throughout the film.
On all accounts the acting was pretty good. The interactions between characters were natural and fluid, and never seemed awkward or forced. They tended, for the most part, to be appropriately tense and fearful when it was necessary, but at times could have been more so. Rae Oliver, in the role of Zoe, gave an initial impression that her character may be a stereotypical girly girl. It was a veneer that was quickly stripped away, as Oliver portrayed Zoe in a way that made her a capable and compassionate woman. Jon Briddell lends the character of Drake a sense of scumbag entitlement, but does not completely strip him of his humanity. He doesn’t like his expertise being second guessed, kind of like Kevin Bacon in White Water Summer. And while Eric Goins as Dan, Jason Burkey as Brian and RJ Shearer as Cheese, weren’t extraordinary characters, and despite any character type cliches, they were still portrayed in a way that made them come across as sympathetic, genuine and relatable.
The setting of Beacon Point is a magnificently beautiful and lush forest area.. The great thing about remote wilderness settings is that within the context of the right story, they can be transformed into daunting and scary backdrops.. When it comes to horror and sometimes sci-fi, they are two genres that are very at home in the woods.
Beacon Point is a good example of making an enjoyable science fiction horror film by resting on the story rather than distracting the audience with copious amounts of CGI or even practical effects. It will not necessarily appeal to everyone, especially those who adamantly believe that gratuitous amounts of gore, rangy alien beasts and scenes of intensely horrific alien experimentation and “probing” are the only way to make a horror film featuring extra terrestrials. Don’t get me wrong I can dig on those kinds of movies too, but sometimes less can definitely more. And it’s for that reason, my Little Monsters, this movie gets 7 /10.
Keep an eye(or two, if you so wish) out for Beacon Point on VOD May 2nd and DVD on July 4th.