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“Rust Creek” is a lean and effectively tense thriller

Too often, filmmakers forget that less can be more. Luckily, the creative forces behind Rust Creek, a new thriller hitting theaters, they know this. Within the first ten minutes, the action and story are already set into motion. Independent cinema like this is always preferable to overly pretentious fare. This flick just wants to tell a lean, mean, and razor sharp story. Without question, they do. This is a really solid film that only pauses to breathe once a breath needs to be taken. It suggests a real strong future for the filmmakers and especially for its star, who is a real find.

As mentioned above, the movie gets down to it rather quickly. Sawyer Scott (Hermione Corfield) is a college student with a plum job interview scheduled in Washington D.C. in a few days. En route, she winds up getting horribly lost in the maze-like Kentucky forest. One wrong turn after another leaves her stranded, which puts her into contact with a pair of troublemakers in Hollister (Micah Hauptman) and Buck (Daniel R. Hill). Before they can find her, she’s picked up by a strange loner named Lowell (Jay Paulson). An uneasy partnership begins as she tries to evade the two men hoping to find her. Of course, they’re up to some criminal deeds, so hoping to remove her from their equation becomes an obsession. Jen McGowan directs, while the duo of Julie Lipson and Stu Pollard wrote the screenplay. Supporting players include Denise Dal Vera, Jeremy Glazer, Laura Guzman, John Marshall Jones, Sean O’Bryan, and a few more. Michelle Lawler is the cinematographer here, while H. Scott Salinas composed the score.

Hermione Corfield is a force to be reckoned with. Jen McGowan deserves a ton of credit for giving her this plum showcase. This movie is elevated by the simple style McGowan shoots things with, while Corfield is a beacon is quiet confidence and intensity. Especially once she starts sharing quieter scenes with Jay Paulson (who I loved years ago in a small role in the underrated gem Imaginary Heroes), you can really tell what a wonderful young actress she is. The more we see of her in the years to come, the better. Hollywood should come calling in rather short oder. The rest of the cast is fine, but she goes above and beyond.

Films like this are calling cards. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see McGowan get tapped for a bigger project soon. She aces the directing here. Likewise, Corfield could be the next Jennifer Lawrence for all we know. She certainly has a chance to be, at least. They just come together nicely to craft something easy to digest but hard to shake off. Much like Winter’s Bone, it effectively brings you into this world. In fact, in some ways, this is actually the superior work. Regardless, if you liked that, you’ll almost certainly like this film as well. The tone is similar enough to make it an obvious pairing.

If you like indie thrillers, Rust Creek is right up your alley. The flick does its job, does it well, and does it without much in the way of fuss. It’s the type of thing you’ll probably have to seek out or find on VOD somewhere, but it’s worth making the effort for. When you see what everyone involved has put forward, you likely won’t be able to deny how high quality this is. Give it a shot and see if you agree. I’m almost sure you will. If nothing else, you’ll be way ahead of the curve on Corfield…

Be sure to check out Rust Creek, out in limited release right now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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