By Bee Garner
“30 Miles From Nowhere” is an ambitious film and a revolutionary one in a lot of ways and frankly it’s a refreshing one for it’s an original approach to filmmaking and storytelling. As part of the film’s commitment to diversity, the film’s cast was very racially diverse and gender-balanced, with the film’s director, being a woman (Caitlin Koller), and the film’s writer also being a female in the form of Seana Kofoed who also produces along with and Kelly Demaret. When we consider how the horror/thriller genre is still mainly dominated by male filmmakers, a film like “30 Miles From Nowhere” is like a breath of fresh air, being somewhat welcoming and daring to be different.
While, “30 Miles From Nowhere” is less of your straightforward horror film, (it’s more of a psychological thriller crossed with a black comedy), the film does have its roots in the horror genre; it has the same chilling atmosphere and tone of a slasher film. However, unlike your generic slasher movie for teens, “30 Miles From Nowhere” is aimed at a more mature audience and is quite an intelligent film that will get you reflecting and thinking.
The film follows a group of friends who were close during their college years but drifted apart, a tragedy has pulled them together. They’re not exactly a likeable bunch. Larry (Rob Benedict) spent his years at college stealing everyone’s girlfriends and basically just being an absolute d*ck. There’s Elaine (Seana Kofoed) who is a lesbian that has recently come out, after spending her college years tending to her mother (meaning she missed out of the ‘fun’ years of her life). There is also Bess (Cathy Shim) who used to be a bit of a sl*t and is now a ‘Stepford’ wife type. Lastly there’s Jack (Postell Pringle) who has always seemed envious of his other peers. Jack is currently dating a 20-something girl called Amber (Marielle Scott), who is keen to party and have fun, slightly sticking out like a sore thumb.
“There’s much to enjoy with “30 Miles From Nowhere”…Preston is really in her element here as the slightly manic, and deranged Sylvia, with her performance being one of the best elements of the film.”
The friends have come together as they’ve recently received word that their fellow friend Max (Andrew Rothenberg) has taken his life after he lost funding for a controversial research project. He has left behind his wife Sylvia (a wonderful Carrie Preston) a documentary filmmaker, and his mother Norma (Roslyn Alexander), who suffers from dementia. What starts off as a seemingly innocent get together, quickly descends into a fight of the fittest when strange and paranormal stuff begins occuring in the cabin where the friends are staying. Stuck in the “middle of nowhere” and with no phone signal, it looks like the friends must stick together in order to survive, or will their past differences get in the way?
There’s much to enjoy with “30 Miles From Nowhere”, writer Seana Kofoed attempts to update the ‘Cabin in the Woods’ sub-genre and while the big ‘twist’ is a little far fetched, it is still enjoyable to watch. The film seems to play homage to classic horror films such as “Evil Dead” and “Scream” and mystery whodunit films such as ‘Clue’ with it’s over-the-top scares and characters. The screenplay feels comforting in a way, but there’s enough original concepts to keep viewers hooked through out.
Preston is really in her element here as the slightly manic, and deranged Sylvia, with her performance being one of the best elements of the film. The other key players do well, but perhaps there are just too many characters to keep track of and sometimes it feels like we don’t receive enough time to get to know them all properly.
Considering the film’s low-budget, the overall final product looks incredibly good. Ben McBurnett‘s cinematography is quite decent, and the use of close-up, tight shots help to create a sense of claustrophobia in the cramped cabin, you almost feel as if you’re trapped inside those four walls with the characters, slowly being driven insane.
The film’s special effects are fairly impressive, but the film could have delivered a more intense third act, and really embraced a darker tone in order to deliver that killer twist that it was trying to execute. Instead, the film feels a little rushed towards the end, and with its runtime of 84 minutes, you will be left wanting more.
Overall, “30 Miles From Nowhere” is worth seeking out, if you prefer your horror films to be on the lighter side. There’s much to admire in terms of story and performances, especially from Carrie Preston who really shines here. However, for diehard horror fans who prefer their films a little darker and more gruesome, this film really isn’t for them as they may consider it a little too tame. Still, both director Caitlin Koller and writer Seana Kofoed are worth keeping an eye on, and we’re excited to see what they do next!