By David Dent
Friends Dom (director Josh Stifter) and Miles (Keith Radichel) live in a small American town. Dom, a somewhat stereotypical single guy who still lives in the basement of his mum’s house, has recently temporarily hung up his spurs after a spell as web host of a ‘Believe It Or Not’ style channel specialising in investigations of urban myths and legends such as The Jersey Devil.
He is very much a ‘the truth is out there’ kind of guy, hoping for a big scoop that will find him fame and fortune. Miles is the Dana Scully of the pair, a morose chap who finds little that is credible in his friend’s work.
When an anonymous package arrives for Dom, containing a video tape which appears to show footage of a mysterious beast, Miles denounces it as yet another hoax. Nevertheless they hotfoot it to the location where it was filmed, meeting local landowner Doug Greywood (Daniel Degnan) who, it is assumed, has sent the tape. But pretty quickly the investigative pair get in way over their heads and realise that there’s more than one monster in the woods.
For the first half of the movie we get to know Dom and Miles, two guys who clearly have a long established friendship. Dom is in the middle of what he terms an existential crisis, his drive to seek the truth rather more than wearing for the laid-back Miles who is keen for Dom to put away childish things. The awkward camaraderie between the pair recalls the shtick of early Kevin Smith films (Smith gets a mention in the credits), but the film takes on a darker tone as the boys camp out in the woods and discover what’s really going on. What happens next can either be seen as surreal, disturbing (and surprisingly gory) farce or something more allegorical. I can’t disclose details, suffice it to mention that I still wasn’t sure at the movie’s close where it was coming from.
But Stifter’s use of black and white photography works fantastically in the rural settings (and yes, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ must have been a visual inspiration – why, the pair even get lost in the woods) and there are lots of little stylistic details, including some animated inserts and great low budget creature stuff, that keep things fresh. I’m not sure I got all this, but I certainly admired what Stifter was showing me.
Greywood’s Plot screened at Arrow Video Frightfest 2021.