Review: RUST CREEK Is Polluted With Cliches

rust creek solo
Hermione Corfield as “Sawyer Scott” in Jen McGowan’s Rust Creek. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. And IFC Midnight release.

Rust Creek is a new thriller film directed by Jen McGowan and starring Hermione Corfield. It is about a college student who gets lost in the Kentucky backwoods on her way to a job interview, forcing her to take refuge from the harsh climate and a group of criminals that have their eyes set on her.

The single biggest issue that this movie has is that its story is extremely generic. It’s just another “stuck-in-the-woods” movie. This is a genre whose time has come and gone and is now outdated. Deliverance is the only film to have pulled off this genre with adequate suspense to justify the reliance on cliches and stereotypes.

The pacing of the movie is ridiculously slow too. It is pretty short, but feels much longer because it contains long stretches in which almost nothing happens. Additionally, there is a significant tonal shift part of the way through the film. It switches from a survival thriller to a drama about making meth. This is a very jarring transition, and any suspense that the earlier part of the movie built is destroyed.

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Hermione Corfield as “Sawyer Scott” in Jen McGowan’s Rust Creek. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. And IFC Midnight release.

Another issue that the film has is that its characters are significantly underdeveloped. Fortunately, there is some natural sympathy for the protagonist because of the situation in which she finds herself. The audience wants to root for her to survive. However, the movie seems to be incapable of using even such basic human pathos as the character comes across as frustratingly ignorant.

The supporting characters weren’t much more well-written. The two main antagonists, Hollister and Buck, are extremely generic. They aligned so closely with the archetypes that their villainous antics weren’t even interesting to watch. Every single move they made could be mapped out from the beginning of the film.

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Hermione Corfield as “Sawyer Scott” in Jen McGowan’s Rust Creek. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. And IFC Midnight release.

Two other supporting characters are written to be morally ambiguous, and the script fails at creating the duality necessary to pull this off. These characters have one or two scenes in which they show potential — a potential which could have made the movie much more interesting as a whole — but this potential is never fully explored. Instead, the characters, like the protagonist and the antagonists, come off as ignorant. It is hard to care about a film in which almost every single character is stupid.

That being said, the actors were able to make the most of the script that they were given. Hermione Corfield does a solid job as the protagonist. The character isn’t particularly complex, but she is able to convey the level of fear and emotion required by the movie. Micah Hauptman is also good in his role, making the protagonist much more menacing than he otherwise would have been.

Overall, Rust Creek is a mostly unexceptional film. It isn’t awful, but it isn’t particularly interesting either.

Rust Creek is in select theaters and on VOD beginning January 4.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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