American Fable

American Fable ★★★½

Much like the recent Dig Two Graves, writer/director Anne Hamilton's American Fable plants itself firmly in rural America, harnessing the quiet, natural beauty for atmosphere and mood. The child's perspective in this setting is rife with imagination, dark and whimsical at the drop of a hat, and it's thanks to this that the story is able to take on more life than it would have from any other angle. What is real, what is magical? The film gives us enough answers over time, but keeps a few to itself in a play that is entertaining enough, despite its flaws.

The script, and to some extent the acting, aren't perfect. There are some pretty heavy handed allegorical lines and awkward exchanges, and early in the film I was pretty lukewarm to young Peyton Kennedy. However, I really do think that she comes into her own as the film progresses, with some genuinely endearing moments between herself and both her father (Kip Pardue) and the imprisoned man (Richard Schiff). The rest of the cast came across as much more archetypal and without depth, especially the oh-so-evil Gavin McIntosh, who isn't necessarily bad in his role, his role simply lacks nuance. There are a lot of loose threads and unanswered questions by the end of the film, beyond the surface level "happy ending" which is disappointing too.

A lot of people are probably going to feel misled by the fantasy aspect of this plot as well, which really is pretty minor and more metaphorical than ever literal. Still, they conjure up some gorgeous shots and memorable imagery with what they do portray and I was still rather happy with the overall level of mystery that they were able to generate via the imagination and willingness to believe of the young girl lead.

On the point of visuals, that is most certainly what the film has most in its favor. The scenic countryside is lovely and the camerawork is crisp and patient, giving the setting plenty of breathing room. Very good production values in general for a low budget film like this (minus some bad CGI fire in one scene, which is becoming rather common these days).

I enjoyed this movie, but I will say I wanted to enjoy it more. A tighter script and a better fleshed out supporting cast could've done wonders for it, and I do admit that I'd have enjoyed it if they'd embraced the fantasy aspect a little more. Still, a reasonably good debut for the director.

You can find this review here, as well as my other reviews at HorrorReviewed.

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