Monday, October 15, 2012

Raindance: THE ASCENT

There is always one film in every fest that is cinematography porn: one amazing shot after another. This year that film was a thriller from Slovenia called THE ASCENT about a novelist with severe writer’s block due to all of the distractions in the city... whose editor owns some rural property which includes a really remote sheep ranch and the old village - before all but one family moved away. Plenty of room, nothing to do there - the writer decides to go there and finish his novel.

But once he gets there - he discovers that the locals aren’t like you and me. They are just as remote as the desolate and mostly abandoned village. They have odd customs. They are not friendly at all. And they *hate* city people. The family consists of an ultra-stern father, his overly intense son and his wife... and the mute and weird sister (who would be hot if she weren’t dressed for doing farm chores. Because these people are less than friendly, the writer begins spying on them to get an idea of what their lives are like... and what he sees is *weird*. They slaughter an entire flock of sheep - and bury them. No wool or meat from the dead sheep - and the sheep killing seems almost like a pagan ritual.  They have taken down all of the pictures and mirrors from inside the house, making it difficult for the writer to shave (the stern father and son have beards). Everything the writer does irritates them, and no matter how hard he tries to be nice to them - it always seems to backfire.

After he saves the epileptic daughter’s life when she has a seizure, the stern father softens a bit - explaining that he’s been testy since an illness hit most of his sheep and they were forced to kill the flock to prevent it from spreading... and asks the writer if he would read them a story from a book (none of them knows how to read) - the only book in the house is a Bible... and they have no idea what it is. They seem to either have no religion or some basic form of worshiping the earth...

But when the writer reads the story of Jesus, it brings religion to them in both good and bad ways.... with horrifying results. This film was so well shot that every frame was like a postcard. A beautiful film that creeped me out and built a great deal of tension.

- Bill

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