Posted in Slashley Reviews by Neal at 06:04, Oct 13 2022
The Sideling Hill Struggle
Film Review by Ashley Turner
The Sideling Hill is a film written and directed by Nathan Hine; starring Mike Knapp, Tiffany Laskey, and Nathan Hine.
Synopsis: Friends Harry and Allie take friend Adam to an abandoned turnpike tunnel that locals say is haunted. Once inside the tunnel, Adam realizes that the local legends are true which have murderous consequences.
The Sideling Hill is a horror film that attempts to merge large
concepts that include urban legends, small town creepiness, demons, psychopathy, PTSD, and the general effects of coming back from war on mental health and personal relationships. These are all very large ideas to tackle individually, let alone altogether, and I don’t believe the movie ultimately succeeds on landing on its intended mark.
There are bright moments, with opening credits reminiscent of the 70’s and 80s horror typography, music, and coloring; as well as color and lighting choices used in the tunnel, that give this film moments of potential. The location choices for the tunnels are visually appealing and great space to tell a horror story. Unfortunately these are overshadowed by the over-the-top gore that doesn’t quite fit the extent of the wounds, forced acting, gratuitous sexual behavior that doesn’t quite make sense to the story, and a mismatched sound composition that felt more like it belonged on a lifetime special versus a gory horror film. I was also a bit curious at the length of the death of one of the characters. It reminded me of the scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie where Paul Reuben’s character takes forever (and I mean forever) to die. I caught myself saying, “Wait a minute, didn’t she just die?!”
The horror genre is a great space where any budget, if executed carefully and effectively, can equally terrify an audience. I wanted to like this film, because I absolutely love indie horror and I think that telling a tell on soldier’s PTSD is a story that would be great to tell. By the end, it felt like that story was convoluted with too many other cliché horror tropes, and the main element was lost. In fact, by the end it seems PTSD really had zero impact on the behavior of the so-called protagonist, because he was just a general psychopath after all. Perhaps this was an intended, or unintended, event to give that final twist, but ultimately doesn’t paint this soldier, and by proxy other soldiers, in such a great light.
In the horror world, every film has a fanbase; every filmmaker a story to tell. For this horror fan, The Sideling Hill is a film I would pass on.