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Fantasia 2006: The Descendant

From one low budget horror film with a message to another. The Descendant is very earnest, and better filmed than Subject Two — less polished, but better pacing, and better acting on the whole. The protagonist, Jamie, is somewhat stiff, but his grandparents and the reclusive denizens of Ste. Harmonie make up for him performance-wise.

It’s hard to describe the movie without giving away too much. Jamie’s mother dies, and he goes to find out why she didn’t talk to her grandparents in twenty-odd years. The town they live in has a secret, and that’s the movie right there.

The earnest part comes in when you hit the plot twist. This is, I think, the movie M. Night Shyamalan should have made instead of The Village. It’s his sort of gut-punch impact, or it would be if it had been made with a bit more skill.

The message is powerful, but the desire to get the point across seems to have led Philippe Spurrell, the director, into skimping on plausibility. His desire to make the crimes of the village as immediate as possible instead make them so implausible as to weaken the whole movie. A step back from the material would have benefitted the whole thing immensely.

Grade: C+ for the movie, B- for the intent.

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