THE TENT (2020)
Directed by Kyle Couch
Written by Kyle Couch
Starring Tim Kaiser, Lulu Dahl, Shelby Bradley, Christine Marie, Jeannine Thompson, Jeff Kaiser, Timmy Kaiser, Kyle Couch, Kameron Carly Backman, John Edward Jaissle, Brandon Bowling, Andrew Doetsch, Michael Haase
Find out more about this film here!!
THE TENT gets an A for effort trying to tell an unconventional story about the apocalypse, monsters in the woods, and a descent into madness. While I admire the ambition, the film is a rough pill to swallow.
Tim Kaiser plays David, an expert survivalist TV host whose skills in the wild prove to be necessary when the apocalypse occurs. Once civilization falls, he sets up a tent in the woods and lives off the land. This gives him a lot of time to reminisce about his life and try to make some peace with his past sins. David’s solitude is interrupted by Mary (Lulu Dahl) a young woman who isn’t as savvy in the wild and asking for David’s help. Though he is reluctant to invite Mary into his neatly organized world, David allows her in as the monsters outside seem to swarm.
From a storytelling standpoint, THE TENT has a pretty cool premise and some interesting twists and turns that occur later in the film. I think the film does a good job of keeping the threat outside the tent vague, playing to THE TENT’s low budget strengths. Filmmaker Kyle Couch does a good job of only showing snippets and shadows of the monsters outside, which make for an ominous tone throughout the story. The twists towards the end show a lot of creativity in the screenwriting stages of THE TENT.
The problem is that though he was able to cover up the low budget aspects of the monsters through camera trickery, Couch leaves a lot of the heavy lifting to lengthy scenes of dialog. And while some of this dialog isn’t half bad, sadly, the actors spouting them just aren’t up to the task of selling it. Understanding a projects strengths and weaknesses is a crucial skill indie filmmakers need to have in order to make a good movie despite a small budget. If you get the right actors, you can focus on the dialog and the more dramatic scenes as long as you punctuate it with some action and scares. In order for THE TENT to work, these multiple scenes of two people talking with one another have to work and they just don’t here.
Somewhere in THE TENT is a decent vision and interesting story. I also think the film has some excellent sound design—something I rarely bring up or notice, but it was very evident here with the howls in the woods, scratches on the tent, and creative uses of music. Still, the acting is what can sometimes save or sink a film and this time, it just couldn’t hold water.