The Luring (2019) [Panic Fest! 2019]

A man returns to his family’s Vermont cabin with his longtime girlfriend to try and remember what happened on his tenth birthday that caused him to have a black hole in his memory. Once there, things start to make sense and connect with the help of a stranger.

Written and directed by Christopher Wells, The Luring starts off with a premise that may sound familiar but the opening scenes show that there is more than likely a lot more to it than what has been seen before. Then the film starts going back and forth between the past and the present showing Garrett as a man who wants to know his past no matter what. From there, Garrett is depicted as a bit of a snot as an adult and a complete little spoiled asshole as a kid. This leads to the viewer having difficulty connecting with the lead as he’s not a likable person at all, his plight thus becoming something of just another plot point. The characters around him are somewhat interesting with the long term girlfriend being the most likable character of the bunch, which makes the viewer wish the film were about her instead of him. The writing here creates these characters and the situation that is at the center of the plot is not one that creates any further sympathy for the lead, much to the contrary in fact. The mystery here is partially easy to guess with the final reveal feeling a bit forced through the mysterious lady who makes Garrett remember and becomes another cliché as soon as her identity is revealed. The film suffers from these and this writing greatly. The direction here is ok working along with the tone of the writing and not giving the characters much to show other than the above.

The cast here is kept fairly small for the modern day part and much bigger for the scenes of the past. The lead of Garrett as an adult is played by Rick Irwin who does a good job of getting under the skin with his attitude and manners, something that can be considered good acting as the film has his character clearly written that way. Playing his girlfriend and the most sympathetic character in the film is Michaela Sprague who is lovely and vulnerable, trying her best to show love and compassion. Playing the mystery lady is Molly Fahey who comes across as trying too hard to be weird, to be mysterious and somewhat kinky (?), her character was clearly created this way but her acting makes her come off even more grating which may be the point here but her plight becomes secondary when it should be the main focus here.

The film does do something very well and that is showing the beauty of its location. Cinematographer Amanda McGrady does fantastic work with the woods, the lake, the beautiful cabin and all its woodsy interiors. Her work here is fantastic and elevates the film above its issues and the not exactly great acting it suffers from. Her images are fantastic and more than worth nothing, making any viewer want to see more from her.

The Luring starts off from a good idea and a concept that should have worked but here something is off and the writing and directing amplify these causing the film to not quite be on par with what was hoped for. The location and cinematography thankfully redeem the film a bit and make the whole process feel a bit better. The acting needs some work but one performance comes off better than the rest, more natural, more human and that is the performance of Michaela Sprague who steals the show here.