Bright Hill Road
Film: Bright Hill Road
Director: Robert Cuffley
Writer: Susie Moloney
Starring: Siobhan Williams, Michael Eklund and Agam Darshi
This was a movie that I got turned on to thanks to Marknado. It is hard earlier in the year to find movies that are being released in the horror genre and he does an excellent job getting lists out there. I read the synopsis here and thought that it worked well to pair up on Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast on top of that. The synopsis is when a misstep after a workplace shooting puts alcoholic Marcy (Siobhan Williams) on leave, she heads out to see her sister in California. Halfway there, she stops for a couple of days at the Bright Hill Road Boarding House. The walls close in on the deeply troubled woman as she loses touch with reality and comes face to face with the misdeeds of her sordid past.
For this movie, we start off seeing a dark room that looks to be made out of wood. We hear a man’s voice calling out to Marcy and she wakes up. There is something interesting here to introduce us to our main character. What we’re seeing is hazy and the reason is that our character is experiencing a hangover. To help combat this, she is already drinking as she heads into work. We see her continue to drink all the way in and even at her desk. When she arrives, her secretary who is played by Sally Cacic, tells her that the boss is asking about her and there is concerns with a guy they fired recently by the name of Harvey.
There is an interesting sequence here where Marcy as the Human Resource person for this company and didn’t do her job. Harvey showed up and started to shoot up the place. Not realizing this is happening, Marcy goes to the bathroom to throw up. A woman hiding in there is shot and dies in Marcy’s arms. To make matters worse, she is put on leave while talking to her boss after the event due to her drinking.
This causes Marcy to go home and reevaluate her life. We see her dump out all of the booze in her place and pack a bag. Her plan is to visit her sister in California. Her addiction runs deep though. She is drinking while driving and we hear a swerve of tires.
The next morning, Marcy finds herself parked near a building with the sign stating Hotel. It was formerly that among other things where it is now a boarding house. The proprietor is Mrs. Inman (Agam Darshi). She knocks on the window, waking Marcy up. She decides to stay a few days and Mrs. Inman checks her in.
Marcy continues to struggle with her drinking. A complimentary bottle of wine is provided and she attempts to just have one glass. She also attempts to give up drinking completely by going cold turkey. Mrs. Inman is helping with her withdrawals. This isn’t the only demon she is facing. Marcy has some dark things in her past that she must deal with. She is also quite irritable when Owen (Michael Eklund) moves into a room down the hall. He is playful, but she isn’t as enthused as he’d like. He also is harboring a dark secret of his own.
That’s where I’m going to leave my recap. I will say that I think this movie is doing some interesting things story-wise and bringing up some relevant topics as well. You know me, as a sucker for social commentary that is something I can get behind. Since we are following Marcy that is where I’m going to start. As stated in my recap, she is an alcoholic. The writing for this character is really good in that we’re seeing the different stages and excuses that addicts will make. I know people who have battled this addiction and I’ve see quite a few episodes of Intervention. There are times she will admit she has a problem and others where she is hiding it. We also see when she is alone the different lies she tells herself. I thought this was well done in exploration of that character.
Another aspect of her that I wanted to go into is that she is dealing with demons of deeds from the past. Her father is dead and it seems she might be to blame here. He died in a fire. There is speculation or at least she is carrying the guilt as being the cause to it. It does appear to be an accident though. Regardless, she blames herself. Her sister seems to as well from the phone calls we hear. She is also partially to blame for the shooting that occurred at work. She didn’t do her job and her drinking isn’t helping there. She is carrying that with her. This movie does another good job here with mirrors. She at one point sees herself covered in blood and also sees herself as a darker version that is demon like. Both of these I thought were well done with the explanation at the end.
The next bit here I’m going to try to be as vague as possible. I’m not going to do spoilers for this and I’ll get into why. This boarding house though isn’t as it seems. Marcy believes it to be haunted from things that she is hearing. Her, Owen and Mrs. Inman all have a reason they are there and dealing with demons of their own. I thought this was interesting. I did predict why they were there though at about the halfway point. I’ll be honest, the movie got a bit boring for me after that as it got repetitive and just meandered. I think it is interesting, just something that we’ve seen before in my opinion.
Where I’ll go next would be the acting. This is mostly a character study of Marcy. She needs to find herself and we see her as she is hitting the rock-bottom of her character in terms of the movie. I think that Williams did a solid job in her performance. I didn’t really have any issues with her and I think her portrayal works for what was needed. I like Eklund as this annoying guy who is a bit misogynistic and childish. It all makes sense for his reveal though. Darshi is also solid as this character trying to guide Marcy for the better and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed in limited roles.
I’ll combine the last two elements in this paragraph. The cinematography is well done here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the director of Robert Cuffley was either a director of photography previously or whomever he had to be the DP having a lot of experience. I really enjoyed the framing, the depth of focus, blurring the images to represent hazy vision and use of mirrors in this movie. There aren’t a lot in the way of effects aside from that, but I really liked what they did to see the ‘darker’ side of people in mirrors so I’ll give credit there. The soundtrack also worked for what was needed on top of that.
In conclusion, I really like the ideas this movie is exploring, especially since they are relevant to our society today. Williams portrayal of Marcy as she is dealing with her addictions and demons of the past works for me. I would say the rest of the cast helped get her character where it needed to go in the end. The cinematography, the effects and the soundtrack also work for me. If anything though, I predicted a bit early to where this was going and I feel the movie loses it way in the middle. For that, I’d say this is above average for me. It is just lacking some elements for me to go higher here.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10