MEET ME THERE (2014)
Thoughts on the Festival Cut by Matty Budrewicz
Back in January, I had the pleasure of engaging in a little online back and forth with director Lex Lybrand, the focus of which being his sophomore feature Meet Me There. In the subsequent article I pieced together from it (which you can read HITHER), I tipped Meet Me There to be one of best up n’ coming American indies of this year. Now, having just been one of the first British scare flick scribes to witness Lybrand’s currently on-the-rounds festival cut, I can very happily say it is. It really, really is.
I must say, I was a little hesitant to write any sort of critique or response to the film for you guys, truth be told. Based upon my pre-existing relationship with Lybrand, because of said interview, and because I do, in fact, firmly believe in the idea of journalistic integrity (for now anyway. I’m sure I can be bought if the price is right though. Best offers, people!), I felt anything of the sort would be improper.
I don’t want to misguide or- even worse- be accused of being anymore gushy and sycophantic than I probably already am. I guess what it is that I’m trying to say is, well, this is NOT a review; this piece you are perusing is merely my immediate response to a neat little picture I feel very passionately about. If you want the full critical sha-boodle, get your arses back here in a few days when UKHS’ human reviewing machine, the right honourable Dave Wain casts his analytical gaze upon it.
Meet Me There is imbued with an eerie and hypnotic power. It’s the kind of power that has made me want to write, scream or do whatever the hell I could to get my thoughts out straight away. It’s a sexually charged Gothic by way of mumblecore; a creepy, dream-like yet all too human character driven horror drama. Think Phantasm as seen through the artistic eye of John Cassavetes, or The Wicker Man by way of Two Lane Black Top. It is both familiar in its use of genre lore and convention, yet completely unlike anything else all at the same time. It’s a bizarre paradox for sure, yet one that somehow makes perfect sense within the confines of the films own inner logic and rich, but only hinted at, mythology.
Meet Me There draws you in, slowly piling on the dread and a near hallucinatory haze with long, lingering handheld shots. It’s gorgeous to look at and study; weirdly steady but prone to the staccato bursts of violent juddering as per the verite-ish technique. It’s an uncomfortable blend that seems to make the whole damn movie feel like something you’d see during your last dying moments. It’s apt really, considering how much death hangs over the film.
Meet Me There is anchored by a trio of strong performances: Lisa Friedrich and Micheal Foulk shine as Ada and Calvin, the young couple whose sexual dysfunction leads them to the weird Oklahoma town of Sheol. They’re the heart, and it’s wonderful to see such a genuine and naturalistic couple. Meanwhile, Dustin Runnels- aka Dustin Rhodes, pro wrestler Goldust by trade- exudes a captivating presence every second he is on screen. Towering but hang-dog; his complex and important turn is a real highlight.
Sure, there’s a few minor quibbles. Meet Me There is not perfect. The mid point, after a nice measured build up, is a little slap-dash and the music is, for my tastes anyway, a little too on the nose at times; as if it were screaming “Be scared! You’re watching a horror movie!”. Frankly, such boo-type cues aren’t needed in this type of slowburn skincrawler. Meet Me There is a state of mind, a feeling, an emotion; not a quick, jolt n’ giggle, tease n’ jump kind of thing. There’s images and moods contained within- lovingly sewn into the movies fabric- that’ll linger long after the credits roll. It’s the same disquieting and goose-pimpling squeeze I got when I watched Strange Behaviour and the original Carnival of Souls for the first time.
There’s something special about Meet Me There, I think.
I can’t wait to see it again.
And I hope you lot can’t wait to check it out either.
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AND WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW