End of Fall film review – A clever film with a tidy script which asks questions that have, for the most part, already been answered.
Simple stories can work well if executed correctly, and End of Fall exemplifies this truism that we often encounter in indie films. Writer-director Joselito Seldera clearly knows how to create a solid script and deliver on it, and the final product offers viewers intrigue and suspense in spades. It is a shame, though, that the questions posed by End of Fall feel like well-trodden paths at this point.
Jackson Nelson (Blaise Miller) is a farmer in rural Wisconsin, a widower trying to raise his daughter Emily (Claire Gordon-Harper) while he struggles to keep the family farm afloat. Emily’s best friend Josh (Jake McLean) is over at their house frequently, and the Nelsons are convinced that the reason Josh spends so much time there is to avoid his father, Derek (Kyle Sing). Derek is presented to us as the perfect antagonist – spiteful, rude and arrogant – and he also happens to be in charge of the bank which, we discover at the opening of the film, is foreclosing on the Nelson’s farm.
Without wanting to give too much away, after an unfortunate fatal incident Jackson spots an opportunity to exact his revenge on Derek and, notwithstanding a little reluctance at first, he takes it. Paul Dillon is excellent as Chief Frank Kowalski, the police officer tasked with getting to the bottom of this messy situation.
It is in intriguing plot with some moral ambiguity which invites viewers to ask: “what would I do in this situation?”. The Nelsons are struggling financially, and foreclosure will likely be the final nail in the coffin. If an opportunity presented itself to get back at the person who did this to you whilst protecting your daughter, how far would you go?
Unfortunately, these subtexts of revenge, family, crime and punishment, and rural poverty after economic downturn are slightly tired. Moreover, any moral ambiguity felt by the viewers is reduced by the fact that Derek is almost a caricature of an antagonist, foisting inevitable abject poverty onto the Nelsons with glee. It is hard to tell if bad direction or a bad performance is to blame for this, but either way it sticks right out, especially when compared to the rest of the cast.
End of Fall is an enjoyable feature, no doubt, and it performs its duties as a crime-thriller with some flair and originality injected here and there. It is, however, let down by a pantomime villain and an overall feeling that we have seen most of it before.