Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Clearing (2020)

Streaming Service: Crackle
Movie Name/Year: The Clearing (2020)
Genre: Horror
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Lexicon Entertainment, Core Vision Films, The PanOptic Group, Room In The Sky Films, Alpha Studios (II), Crackle Plus
Director: David Matalon
Writer: David Matalon
Actors: Liam McIntyre, Aundrea Smith, Steven Swadling, Sydelle Noel

Blurb from IMDb: A father must battle his way through the zombie apocalypse to save his daughter.

Selina’s Point of View:
The beginning impressed me. It jumped right into the action and showed some aspects of the zombies that made it feel like they were going to have a different kind of lore behind them. It felt like The Clearing was gearing up to be something that set itself apart from a typical zombie film.

Unfortunately, the film didn’t deliver on the promises it made in the opening.

The story never went into what was behind the zombies at all. So, even though we get these walking dead creatures that seem to burst at strange moments and that are brimming with insect life the bodies are too new to attract on their own, we get no explanation. I hate that. I want to know why they’re different than I should expect. In this case, it’s just something done to try to up the ‘gross’ quotient.

In reality, it was a by-the-number, stay-on-the-safe-side, nothing-new kind of zombie film. I mean, I could have timed the events that took place. In some cases, I did.

Then there were other parts that just didn’t make sense. Either they were full-on plot holes, or they were the equivalent of a person surviving a nuke by hiding in a fridge. I’m sorry, but I just can’t suspend my disbelief that hard.

This was my first experience on Crackle.

I always thought that Crackle had a pay wall. Since there was only one thing I wanted to see on it [Snatch (2017-)], I didn’t feel like it would be worth the monthly payment. Once I found out it was 100% free, I decided I had nothing to lose.

Although I’m not a fan of this film, I have been browsing around the app and I still feel glad I made the account. There’s a lot more available on it than I thought there’d be. The ads are a little obnoxious, but compared to the decent options you get, I still say it’s worth pausing the ad-blocker.

Cat’s Point of View:
I am fairly certain that The Clearing is going to stick with me for a while. I can’t shake this lingering feeling of dread that built steadily throughout most of the movie. I have to say, I am looking forward to seeing what other stories David Matalon (Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, In 3 Days) might have up his sleeve for the future, considering this was his feature-length film debut as a writer and director.

The Clearing has everything you would expect from the zombie-horror genre, and then some. This production didn’t try to change up the recipe too drastically, however. A good number of the tried-and-true staples are present. There’s just a little extra kick. Not only that, but there are some impressive action elements here. The fight choreography won me over. I found myself holding my breath without realizing it at times because I couldn’t see how the main characters were going to make it out of the predicament they found themselves in.

I think they struck gold casting Liam McIntyre (Spartacus, The Flash, See You Soon) in the role of the father. His previous experience had to be a great bonus here.

I was caught hook, line, and sinker by this story. There was enough character development so that it wasn’t just a zombie gore-fest going on, and I was thoroughly invested. I identified especially well with the frustration of the father trying to relate to his tween-age daughter. My nearly 17-year-old practically requires an act of congress to get her to put her phone down. Heaven help me, when I encourage her to go outside and do something; you’d think I’d just asked a vampire to walk into the sun. I digress.

Another thing I appreciated about this film was the fact that they kept it focused on the microcosm of the titular clearing area, rather than shifting back and forth between the world-at-large dealing with the zombies and the main character. It was a smart play, considering the Crackle platform has regular commercial breaks. The focus was entirely where it was supposed to be so that the intermittent interruptions didn’t distract as much as they could have from the story. I’ll come back to that, though.

The only thing that worked against this movie was the fact that it had commercial interruptions. Granted, I am not mad that they existed in general. That’s the trade-off for the Crackle streaming platform remaining free. My issue was how the film was seemingly cut up by the commercials.

When you watch made-for-TV movies, there are strategic pauses or scene transitions that allow the commercials to break in on a regular basis without interrupting the flow of the story. That wasn’t the case, here. It was as if the ads were on a timer and were simply unleashed upon a theater release film so that they barged in like the Kool-Aid man through a wall. It was very jarring at times.

I have to take this with a small grain of salt, considering the concept of the movie was rather relentless, so there weren’t exactly a lot of great places to break in – but it felt like it could have been better organized in a Crackle exclusive. It didn’t detract from the movie too much. It was still a great experience – especially for free.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

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