PLANTING (2023) Movie review FROM 22nd anniversary Tribeca Film FestivalOR movie run by Barney Claywritten by Barney Clayand playing Scott Haze, Kate Lyn Sheil, Christa Atkins, Charlie Avink, Thatcher Jacobs, Chelsea Jurkiewicz, Michael Monsour, Alex MontaldoAND Armand Toure.
A photographer held prisoner in a desert canyon is an unwilling participant in a mysterious ritual.
I am not a mean person by nature. Really, I’m not.
And I’m not a snob either. I try to find something of value in any artistic endeavor, especially in film.
Today it doesn’t take a lot of money to make a good movie. This is especially true of horror, which has always been a good genre in which aspiring filmmakers can and did cut their creative teeth. This is no secret. Horror has universal appeal because it can be applied anywhere – drama, comedy, science fiction, mystery, in any combination.
The perspective of PLANTING must have looked very good on paper: no expensive kits; a wardrobe available at any thrift store; a weak cast, longer on talent than experience; and a surprisingly great addition to the team, which, judging by the overall look of the film, is very good. All that said, it’s strange why PLANTING went so far south and stayed there.
The film opens auspiciously with a dirty, half-naked baby wandering through a vast desert under the late afternoon sun, digging out what turns out to be a human finger. Then a car in the distance distracts us and the camera follows it to a street where a young man goes out to observe a total eclipse. In the darkness of the gathering he encounters a young boy who claims to have lost his parents, who prompt him to explore the torchlit canyon where he seeks help from a mysterious young woman who resides in a hut on the canyon floor, where the rest of the action takes place. while the lower steps of the stairs leading down disappear the next morning.
From this point we witness the story’s descent into an extremely slow and painful death. Okay, so we’ve already guessed that he’s being held captive for everyone’s title: he’s there to impregnate the young woman for a nefarious purpose, but there’s still a way to go, and the convention between them is like a blind date gone wrong that never ends. The woman is mysterious, okay, she has practically nothing to say about herself or herself. But with almost no information, useful or otherwise, given about her captive guest, her mystery is both boring and ultimately pointless.
He tries to escape by improvising ways to break out of his prison, but a group of wild teenagers foil his plan. What purpose these children serve besides pulling stunts is never made clear; they mostly tease and taunt, but they also chant some mantras in unison that, I assume, are meant to evoke some kind of mischief or another. They seem to appear on the canyon floor in an instant, cursing and taunting, then disappearing just as quickly.
There is a powerful scene, however, when one of this crew is suspended by arms and legs over the canyon as punishment for befriending the prisoner. This also marks a curious reaction in the woman’s attitude; suddenly she fills herself with piss and vinegar and banishes her unwanted lover to a dog cage outside, then ignoring him until his release with the birth of his daughter (judging by the woman’s swollen belly) around five months later.
The audience is offered some dead-end data, little, no context, so it accomplishes nothing and leads nowhere. One example marks the passage of time with beautiful title cards of full moon name letters such as ‘Blood Moon’ and ‘Strawberry Moon’ and so on, placed over a plate of rotting poultry and vegetables. (I could swear “Harvest Moon” was used twice in a row.) There are black marks covering the walls above the woman’s bed, to which she adds another in red (menstrual blood?) with her index and middle fingers her.
Aside from the impressive production values, another real standout is Scott Haze’s performance as the hapless climber and doomed father; he manages incredible scope and depth with the lean material.
It appears that large resources have been committed to this project, considering the size of the crew. The composer (Tristan Bechet) has a lot to answer for. The soundtrack is certainly creepy – creepy and loudly, as if using more decibels would make up for the shallow plot. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that at one point there was a really good idea floating around this project. Something about the wild allure of primitive folk religion, along the lines of Knitting man, The dark secret of the harvest houseor even Children of the Corn?
Leave your thoughts on this PLANTING review and movie below in the comments section. Readers looking to support this type of content can visit our Patreon page and become one of FilmBook’s patrons. Readers looking for more Tribeca Film Festival news can visit our Tribeca Film Festival page , our Film Festival page , and our Film Festival Facebook page .
Readers looking for more movie reviews can visit our movie review page Twitter movie review siteand our Movie Review Facebook page.
Want updated notifications? FilmBook staff members publish articles via Email, Feedly, I tweetFacebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, Telegram, Mastodon and Flipboard.