Film Review – Disappearance At Clifton Hill (2019)

It’s been a while since we have had a really good mystery thriller, hasn’t it?! Last year’s Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s magnificent throwback to the whodunnit sub-genre notwithstanding (and let’s face it, it towers over other pretenders), it’s been nothing like the output we had in the 90’s with a seemingly unstoppable flood of them coming every week. Indeed, there have been attempts since but it’s been some time since we’ve had a really impressive one but Albert Shin‘s new film takes a decent stab at it.

Abby (Tuppence Middleton) is returning to her home in Niagara Falls, Ontario to deal with the will and legal affairs of her recently deceased mother who has decided to sell the family-run motel they had owed for years previous. It’s the first time she has been back in decades and immediately her thoughts turn to a childhood trauma she is still wrestling with: when she was seven, she witnessed a kidnapping of a “one-eyed” boy near the Riverside. Soon, she becomes obsessed with the case, deemed as suicide at the time, and sets out to uncover the truth.

Atmospheric almost immediately, there’s a lot of tension and intrigue flowing through Clifton Hill as it begins with its shocking opening salvo that gets the brain ticking from the off. Simple abduction? A plot for money? Or something more sinister? But such are the questions and narrative that it keeps you guessing most of the way through before it falls apart in its lukewarm third act.

A misty, intrusive darkness fills the film as clues are sparse in the lead up to its revelations – and there are plenty – and Shin and James Schultz‘s script navigate the main narrative as well as the anxieties and issues that come from childhood trauma, the scars of which echo through the film.

Ably performed by its cast with Tuppence Middleton excellent in the lead role, as is the welcome – and slightly strange – appearance of David Cronenburg as a local podcaster (yep, you read right), all of whom bring a great weight and pathos to the material. All in all, Clifton Hill is a decent little mystery thriller that has plenty to ponder and even more to uncover and while it may fall off the Falls in its third act, is certainly worth a look.

★★★

Drama, Mystery | USA, 2019 | 15 | Digital (20th July 2020), DVD (3rd August 2020) | Lightbulb Film Distribution | Dir.Albert Shin | Tuppence Middleton, Hannah Gross, Marie-Josée Croze, David Cronenberg
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