Tuesday, January 20, 2015

“Morris County” DVD (director: Matthew Garrett)

Powerful and intelligent indie drama/horror

Man, this indie trilogy really hits hard. Director Garrett here weaves a series of three distantly-related tales that could almost function as “lost” “Tales From The Crypt” stories, but with more emotional resonance and less gratuitous gore and sex. “Morris County” could be broadly considered horror, but it’s not so in conventional sense. I give great credit to the smart storytelling or Garrett, who takes these “everyday” lives into unseen and often horrifying sides, without evoking any supernatural or serial killer stereotyping.

The first story, “Ellie”, presents a rather unfortunate day in the life of teenaged Ellie, who withstands a series of poor judgement calls. Without putting out any spoilers, let’s just say it’s a riveting and painful journey to experience. Ellie is played exceptionally by Darcy Miller, conveying an unspoken air of trauma and confusion. "The Family Rubin” is a story of an upstanding Jewish family with plenty of ghosts in their closet. Startlingly similar in spirit to “American Beauty”, this is the lower point of the film, if only due to its similarity to that better-known film. The final story, “Elmer and Iris”, is a sad story of a seemingly happy elderly woman who, upon being cut from her office job of many years, finds herself painfully alone when her husband dies. Suffice to say, it gets weird, but remains very human and absolutely memorable.

As mentioned earlier, “Morris County” isn’t horror, but a well-scripted and well-acted trilogy of dramas that reflect a breakdown in traditional life in the suburbs. All the tales here are harrowing and edgy, but realistic. The portrayals are believable, as are the stories themselves. This is the ultimate strength of the film. Kudos to everyone involved, as this is a powerful movie that lingers in the psyche long after the disc has stopped.

As well, it should be noted that there is a plethora of bonus materials, including a creepy short film by Garrett called “Beating Hearts”. And the subtle electronic score by David Kristian is masterful, too.

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