Across The River is an Italian horror movie that’s essentially a mood piece – it has its tense moments but this is more about atmosphere than scares. Lorenzo Bianchini’s chiller follows an ethologist who stumbles across an abandoned village on the Italian border with Slovenia. He notices that things aren’t quite right but he becomes trapped in the village when the weather deteriorates and then he realises that he might not be alone.
Bianchini delivers a slow burning film that is more of a ghost story than full-blown horror. It has effectively just one actor (Renzo Gariup) and minimal dialogue meaning that Bianchi has to lean on visuals and editing to tell his story. Daniele Trani’s cinematography makes good use of the wild landscape and the decrepit ruins of the rundown village. He uses his camera as an additional character, one that pulls the audience into the film. At times things touch on going down the ‘found footage’ route, but both Bianchini and Trani pull back, to make sure that things stay traditional. As an editor, Bianchini keeps his pacing deliberate, slowly developing his story as we follow Gariup’s character as he travels deeper into the mountains and finally into the crumbling village. He’s aided by Stefano Sciascia’s eerie score, which perfectly complements the onscreen action (or lack thereof).
If Across The River has a flaw, then it’s the poorly developed subplot that pulls us away from the central story. It’s never fully realised and in a way it is just there to try and explain why things are happening. Sometimes the best horrors are the ones that are unexplained -Bianchini seems to know this, and that’s why he seems to hold back on the explanations. If you’re going to explain, then explain, if not, don’t bother.
Film’s like Across The River will never break into the mainstream, but that’s okay, it was never meant to be populist fare. This Italian chiller is slowly paced and well crafted. More of a ghost story than a horror, Lorenzo Bianchini’s film is an intriguing counterpoint to genre films which are front loaded with shocks.