Directed by: Nino Aldi
Written by: Joseph Rein and Nino Aldi
Starring: Tyler Ritter, Paul Elia, Ryan Ray Vincent, Eric Michael Roy, Travis Quentin Young, Nino Aldi, Carlena Britch
Indie Film Review by: Hannah Sayer
Nino Aldi’s Stillwater follows six old school friends as they reunite on a camping trip to an
isolated and uninhabited island. The plot feels familiar straight away, as it is a premise explored frequently in films, particularly in the horror genre. The film follows a traditional structure, as the detectives in the present interrogate one of the friends, while flashbacks to the weekend trip take up the majority of the running time. The viewer just has to wait for the inevitable trouble to ensue, amidst this “1500 miles of uninhabited wilderness”.
Stillwater opens with Willie, played by Paul Elia, being interrogated by the police about the aforementioned camping trip. There is a sense of dread created instantly through the heightened score which forebodes what is to come. The dark and gloomy visual aesthetic of the interrogation scenes also works well at foreboding the events of the weekend, which Willie may want to keep to himself.
The plot then flashes back to Dawson, played by Tyler Ritter, and Willie driving to the island. They remark that this trip has been fifteen years in the making. It is a chance for this group of friends to escape their lives by getting drunk and just forgetting about their work, families, and for Dawson an impending divorce. When the friends reunite on this island, they find that they are joined by three others from their schooldays who were not part of their original friendship group, which instantly creates a tension between everyone invited. What follows is a wild night which results in the mysterious death of one of the friends. Supposedly, no-one has any recollection of the events that took place after a certain point in the night. The remainder of the film plays out very much as expected as suspicions rise amongst the group and the friends begin to wear each other down, as they try to ascertain who would have committed this awful act against one of their own.
Stillwater is most successful when the tension is slowly building to boiling point. Once this diffuses and the friends begin to attempt to work out who has murdered their friend, the film suffers from not being as gripping. The running time feels drawn out as the plot begins to run out of steam by the end. However, the escalating build up of tension is exciting and the initial paranoia and suspicion which plays out amongst the friends makes Stillwater a worthwhile watch.
Watch the official movie trailer for Stillwater below.