LORE, the outdoors thriller from writer/director Christian Larsen and Brock Manwill, held its premiere at the Dances With Films Festival last night. The film, a slow burn in every sense of the phrase, tells the story of a recently divorced couple who, with the help of a Native American guide, search for their missing son in a remote, mountainous wilderness.

LORE shows its hand early in the film, revealing itself to be much more of a deliberately paced character-study than an outright horror/thriller flick (careful not to be fooled by the genre label, however, as nothing in the film is particularly thrilling). In fact, for a portion of the runtime, the execution and focus on the estranged couple, their reliance on faith, and their brokenness is quite admirable. Lyndsey Lantz and Max Lesser shine in the film, with Lantz standing out as a pillar of faith and strength in a world that constantly crashes down around her. Additionally, Sean Wei Mah performs well as John, the Native American navigator, and Eric Roberts is great in a singular scene as the local sheriff in the film’s opening.

While the acting remains the surface highlight of LORE, there’s much more to be admired – particularly in the cinematography department. Filmed on location in Cache National Forest, Idaho, cinematographer Andrew Brinkhaus crafts beauty with a brush his own, capturing the true gorgeousness of a secret-harboring wilderness that will have you booking a flight to the state immediately (unless you’re broke, such as I). The direction of Larsen and Manwill is in peak form as well, never losing sight of their small character piece, even with a scene-stealing backdrop threatening to overtake the project entirely.

Where LORE falters, unfortunately, is in its execution as a horror/thriller. The film is front-loaded with somber atmosphere, but none of that moodiness is particularly effective in the long-run, nor does it lead to any memorable frights or sequences. The directors put a resounding emphasis on their slow burn pace, ultimately making for a dull experience when considering how little the payoff is.

LORE tends to be rather small and quiet, which is admirable until the film forgets to make even the slightest bit of sound. There’s much to be respected by way of the performances, cinematography, and technical execution, but this flick ultimately falls short of its indie horror ambitions.

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