When you see enough movies you get into the rhythm of certain genres and it’s often easy to guess what’s going to happen next. I can honestly say that director Caitlin Koller’s 30 Miles From Nowhere was a total surprise. You think you know where this comedy-thriller is going, but it takes many twists and turns and spins you around in such a way that you don’t know where the plot pointing.
30 Miles From Nowhere plays like The Big Chill meets Scream, with a tiny touch of Evil Dead thrown in for good measure. Koller’s film sees five old friends go to the country for the funeral of a former college buddy. Old tensions arise and friendships get frayed as a storm closes in, but there’s something else afoot which is even more sinister. With no place to go and no cellphone signal to call for help, they find themselves in danger and… 30 Miles From Nowhere.
There’s much to enjoy in 30 Miles From Nowhere. The game cast featuring Carrie Preston, Rob Benedict, Cathy Shim, Seana Kofoed (who also wrote the film) and William Smillie really sell the material. They share an easy chemistry and it’s fun to be in their company when the film is in Big Chill territory, and this helps you care what’s going to happen when the film takes its inevitable turn to thriller mode. Credit must go to writer Seana Kofoed, who has created characters who seem real, not just genre archetypes. I was also a fan of Ben McBurnett’s cinematography, which brought a nice visual sheen to proceedings. Film’s with modest budgets often fail to register on a visual level, but but there’s a nice crispness and strong composition to 30 Miles From Nowhere which helps make it stand out.
The humour works well and the thrills are there, but I would have liked if 30 Miles From Nowhere went a little darker in its last act. I’m not talking about Texas Chainsaw Massacre or anything, but a touch more edge might have given added punch to the genre switcheroo. This is personal preference, I suppose and it’s not enough to ruin my enjoyment of this well-crafted thriller.
It should also be noted that 30 Miles From Nowhere is a genre film written and directed by women and Koller’s pic was awarded the ReFrame Stamp, which represents supporting women in film. On a creative side, the horror and thriller genres are dominated by men but the majority of their audiences are women and it’s good to see that the glass ceiling has started to be broken. Not only that – the film also made sure that the cast and crew were racially diverse and gender-balanced. Cinema needs more diverse voices and I think that the diversity on display here is one of the reasons why 30 Miles From Nowhere feels so fresh.
Entertaining and well crafted, 30 Miles From Nowhere is a surprising thriller which will keep you guessing until the end. Good stuff.