Meet Me There (2013) Director’s Cut Screener Review

MEET 001MEET ME THERE (2013) Director’s Cut Screener

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Lisa Friedrich, Micheal Foulk, Dustin Runnels

Written by: Brandon Stroud, Destiny D. Talley (story)

UK Certification: n/a

Runtime: 93 minutes

Directed by: Lex Lybrand

UK Release Date: n/a

I didn’t expect for fate and film criticism integrity to be part of the first line of one of this week’s reviews, but from time to time a jigsaw will fall into place that has you scratching your head and wondering “what are the odds?”. Lex Lybrand – I’m not familiar with the name, but my friend and fellow UKHS scribe Matty Budrewicz is. He told me last week that he has exchanged the occasional email with Lex and of course also had the privilege of interviewing him for UKHS back in January. Matty had been lucky enough to catch Lex’s new movie ‘Meet Me There’, described as “an art film set in a horror universe”, but was reluctant to review it as he felt a fresh pair of eyes could offer perhaps a more critical perspective to this intriguing indie picture. So here we are, and those crow’s feet lined eyes belong to me…

A five minute prologue begins the film, and it’s one that grabs you by the throat and then pokes you in the eye with its stark originality. Lybrand stated in his interview with Matty that despite having an appreciation of horror, he really isn’t an aficionado, and with Meet Me There that level of ‘naivety’ with the genre enables him to deliver a level of sustained ingenuity. With a pumping soundtrack over the opening credits, we’re introduced to Ada (Lisa Friedrich) and Calvin (Micheal Foulk), a regular couple in their late twenties who we find kissing passionately on their bed and are well on the way to having sex. Before they do so, we find Ada recoiling and suddenly going off the idea of intimacy for as yet undisclosed reasons.

MEET 002Their ongoing sexual dysfunction has lead them to seek the help of a psychiatrist who manages to glean that while Calvin had a pretty regular childhood to which he has vivid memories of, Ada struggles to recall even the most basic of memories from her early years. The psychiatrist suggests that a very likely cause of Ada’s reluctance to engage in intercourse could well stem from her childhood, specifically certain experiences that her memory is deliberately trying to protect her from. Later on the couple discuss the events of the day while Ada goes through some old photographs. They decide that the only way to combat this situation is to visit Ada’s home state of Oklahoma with the hope of unearthing the root of her issues, but once there they find her old house no longer exists and a brief stay with her aunt only sets about a chain of unnerving situations.

Meet Me There is an absolute treat for anyone that has any kind of affection for good, honest independent horror. With a lot of indie movies you tend to be a little apologetic when recommending them – “yeah, the acting is a little cringe, but…” or “yeah, the photography is a little uneven, but…” – however, with Lybrand’s feature the difficulty lies with trying to keep your praise in check when the initial response would be to exalt it with a feverish level of excitement. The two lead actors (Friedrich and Foulk) are absolutely magnificent… why? because they’re normal, everyday people. In a break from the norm of casting a jock and a cheerleader in seemingly every horror movie with a couple as its focal point, this movie spends time in allowing us to get to know Ada and Calvin. Not only that, but they have a relationship that exudes realism. For example, at the start of the film when Calvin feels rejected by Ada for spurning his advances he doesn’t reject her or treat her with disdain – he supports her. A simple moment like this enables the characters to grow immeasurably, and the empathy and feeling you have towards them is established with aplomb.

The film does take time in establishing a level of menace that would normally be attributed to a horror movie. Nearly the first half of the movie is comprised of dialogue which could well frustrate people who have been conditioned towards ADHD genre movies. For me though this level of pacing was welcome, and the gradual increase in tension and atmosphere in the latter stages is expertly handled. The photography in the film belies the film’s presumed budget and the director’s use of black and white is incorporated appropriately. A deep nod of respect for the music in the film also, which manages to blend traditional hymns with some great contemporary bands – with a fist pump of respect for the use of the track ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’ from The Wonder Years album ‘The Greatest Generation’. Tune.

MEET 003Lex Lybrand told Matty that he was pretty confident that the film would be able to secure some worldwide distribution deals, and I really hope that will be the case. We were only speaking the other day about the cynical excuses for horror movies that dominate the release schedules in the UK and shared an air of despondency over the lack of solid indie titles that are able infiltrate the market place. THIS though, is what we need, and it should serve as a template for what independent horror filmmakers should seek to create.

8 out of 10

Follow all the news about Meet Me There on their Facebook page HERE

MEET ME THERE (2014) Thoughts on the Festival Cut by Matty Budrewicz

meetmethere1MEET 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.

meetmethere2Meet 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.

meetmethere3Sure, 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.


Follow Matty on twitter @mattybudrewicz