Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth

08/25/2023 08:47

Film: Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth

Year: 2023

Director: Dan Bowhers

Writer: Dan Bowhers

Starring: Morgan DeTogne, Michael Kowalski and Mike Headford



This is a movie that I got the chance to see via screener thanks to Emma from Entertainment Squad. There were a few screeners that I could check out and when I saw this was horror as well as a 2023 release, that was all I needed to know. I like to support independent filmmaking when I can, so that was a bonus as well.

Synopsis: Olivia Brandreth (Morgan DeTogne) was nine years old when her father disappeared. Twenty-five years later, she returns to her childhood home to get closure in an unrelenting attempt to set the record straight.

That synopsis does well in recapping what we get here. We are getting a mockumentary/found-footage type film. Olivia is a filmmaker who works with Chris Donovan (Michael Kowalski). Due to her father, Nick (Nick Brandreth), disappearing she wants to do a documentary to investigate this. She has a history of working in true crime so she’s built up that clout.

What we knew at the start was that Nick was a photographer. Along with his wife, Francine (Donna Carpino) and daughter, they lived in Rochester, New York. What was odd is that he disappeared in the nearby woods. It was ruled a suicide by the police since there was a gun and a spent shell casing found. There wasn’t a body though. Things aren’t adding up and Olivia wants to find the truth.

Olivia interviews her mother along with the lead detective on the case of Capt. Frank Lynch (Josh Olkowski). There is an arrogance about him that rubs the Brandreth family the wrong way. He ignores evidence that was presented. He is clearly determined that he was right in his findings.

There is a break in the case through interviewing Henry Davenport (Robert Husted). He ran a photography store and allowed Nick to use his dark room. Olivia finds a trip camera, one that originally belonged to Horace Cody Taylor (Robert J Jeffords). Henry has the pictures taken and this is where it gets weird. There are individuals in the shots wearing hooded robes. In the images there is a freestanding door in the woods as well. Henry warns them about what he shows them and to be careful.

Another break is in the form of a private investigator who was hired for the case originally. He states to Olivia that he found her father. His explanation moves into the supernatural as well as into the cosmic. Other dimensions might be involved here.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. I wanted to give you enough information to tease without spoiling. Where I’ll start then with my breakdown is that this felt a lot like Lake Mungo or The Conspiracy. The realism here is that we get fake credits for the documentary that Olivia and Chris are making. I loved that. Found footage or mockumentaries need to be built in the basis of this happened. It is a good touch here.

Going along with this, the case of what happened to Nick is spooky and yet grounded in the start. How many cold cases have a simple, yet unexplained concept? What everyone knows is that Nick went into the woods and disappeared. There was a gun found and a spent shell. I can’t fully fault Capt. Lynch in his explanation. There is something fishy when photographs are presented to him and dismisses immediately. I get the idea that he is covering up what happened here. That makes me think of The Conspiracy. Being that he works along with the government, he knows more than he’s letting on and trying to close this case without people prying into it. There is a little thing that happens with Olivia that made me think this.

Where I want to then shift is supernatural/cosmic ideas we get here. There is this cult, which I’m a sucker for. We see these images of a freestanding door in the woods as well. This movie brings in the ideas of time travel and alternate dimensions. Francine and Capt. Lynch laughed him off originally. Olivia and Chris don’t believe him. We see something that happen that makes us believe. He knows things he shouldn’t. What I also like is that we get history of what this cult worships. I’m sure they’re added this specific image to the old paintings/drawings, but I’m a mark for that as well. Everything here piques my interest.

I need to shift to a negatives though. There are effects here that I didn’t love. Not enough to ruin things, but they just didn’t fit with everything that we got to that point. They are used a few times after that as well. I like the implications though. I also like having these random doors that appear in different places. There is something unnerving about it. The cinematography is well done there. I do like the found footage/mockumentary feel. That makes us part of it so it builds atmosphere. We do get music in this. What I’ll say there is that it can ruin movies filmed like this. Since we are seeing the edited product. It worked.

All that I want to go into here then would be the acting. The acting feels amateur, but I give it props there. That makes it feel more real to me. DeTogne feels like this woman who wants to find out what happened to her father. Kowalski works as her counterpart. I also like Mike Headford as a camera man here. We don’t see him a lot, but we know he’s there. It explains the more cinematic shots as well. Brandreth is good as our missing person. I’ll also credit Carpino, Olkowski, Husted, Jeffords and the rest of the cast to round out what was needed. There is hit or miss acting, but not enough to ruin things. It again feels more real.

In conclusion, this is a tight little mockumentary. I like that we start this grounded. I’m there for this unexplained case that you’d get with true crime. The deeper that Olivia digs, the more things go supernatural and into the cosmic realm. I thought that DeTogne along with the rest of the cast were believable in their roles. This is well-made. The filming style works and it feels like we are there with them. My only gripe is an effect used. It pulls me out slightly. If you like these types of movies, I’d recommend it for sure.


My Rating: 7 out of 10