Filmmaker Dane Elcar‘s BRIGHTWOOD follows Jen and Dan down a path of terror over and over, literally. Trapped together in a time loop that shifts from moment to moment, the audience gets dragged onto an unpredictably demented ride into the depths of relationship survival. No matter how fast they run or which direction they travel, Dan and Jenn end up back in the same spot they began, a lakeside running path next to a “No Swimming” sign. Things get weirder when they run into a shadowy figure who ignores their pleas for help with intent to harm.
Dana Berger plays Jenn with an exasperated aura. She is a woman who has decided that this relationship is over. Berger’s emotional journey is vastly different from her co-star Max Woertendyke, playing Dan. He has some fight left in him as to their marriage. That comes with a caveat of information as the film rolls on. Woertendyke nails the comedy and the horror. Their remarkable chemistry and Elcar’s writing earn a second viewing. The editing is impressive. I wish I could have been in the room while Elcar was storyboarding. The coordinated chaos is delicious. The dialogue is honest and biting, even set against the mysterious goings-on. It’s undeniably ballsy.
A therapy session from hell, BRIGHTWOOD taunts our protagonists and the audience with macabre twists and turns, dizzying us with theories. Its shocking final reveal (which is a double doozy) seemingly suggests that, in this environment, compromise and teamwork are the only way forward, for better or for worse. No spoilers from me. It’s dark as hell.
ARRIVES ON AUGUST 22ND on VOD and DVD
Written and directed by Dane Elcar, BRIGHTWOOD stars Dana Berger and Max Woertendyke.