Albert Shin (director)
20 July 2020 (released)
15 July 2020
During a family fishing trip young Abby walks off on her own and sees a boy, with one eye, being chased, beaten and kidnapped by a man and a woman. Needless to say it has an effect on her though this doesn’t come to the fore until many years later when an adult Abby (Tuppence Middleton) and her sister Laure (Hannah Gross) are overseeing the will and prospective sale of their mother’s Rainbow motel that has seen better years.
Abby has some sentimental attachment to the building while Laure is more pragmatic and wants to be rid of it. They have received an offer from a local construction company owned by Charlie Lake (Eric Johnson) whose family appear to have the run of the town. A near one-night stand for Abby who is staying in the motel does nothing to prepare her for the meeting with Lake and the ensuing bickering between the sisters about the motel.
Searching through old papers Abby turns up a photo taken on that trip many years ago which brings back the memories and spurs her to investigate it. Going to explore the location she meets Walter (David Cronenberg) scuba diving who is a local historian, conspiracy theorist and podcaster. She relates the one-eyed boy story and taking it to the police she gets little help as the copper was the one-night stand that never was. Further investigations open a Pandora’s box of trouble, lies upon lies as grotesque characters are introduced as the case becomes ever more unsavoury.
This is a highly watchable thriller co-written by director Albert Shin with James Schultz and oddly topical. It’s maybe not totally satisfying though and the ending may divide opinion – I didn’t like it.
Set in and around the community of Clifton Hill, which probably depends to a great extent on being close Niagara Falls, there’s a weathered ambience about the film with a colour palette to match. That could have dragged on the pacing but Shin has balanced small-town town life with and intricate plot that is reminiscent of the Fargo series.
What is interesting too is that this is as much about Abby herself (who has mental problems) as she becomes so tightly woven in the case that it’s possible to see her as either obsessive and/or arch manipulator. This results in an intriguing performance from Middleton.
Disappearance at Clifton Hill will be available on Digital Download from July 20 and on DVD from August 3.