Monarch Home Entertainment // 2010 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Alice Nelson // February 9th, 2013
You would think a family named Pascal could handle the pressure.
In this day and age, you can't assume that a straight to DVD release means the movie bites, sometimes these films can be just as entertaining as anything released in a theater. Such is the case with True Nature, a surprisingly well written film, with good acting and a director who uses subtlety in a genre not known for its finesse; the results are a very satisfying thriller.
The Pascal family is the epitome of the American dream: dad Reg (Reg Land) is a successful businessman, married to the beautiful Becky (Carolyn McCormick, Law and Order). Both are the proud parents of their college age daughter, Marianne (Marianne Porter). One night while jogging, Marianne vanishes without a trace; one year later she shows up on her parent's doorstep covered in dirt, dehydrated, with no idea of where she's been all that time. But it's no happy homecoming, because Marianne is tormented by nightmares and strange flashbacks from the night of her abduction. Her fragile mental state begins to crack as she starts to figure out just what happened on that night one year ago.
True Nature stars a cast of virtual unknowns; the most recognizable name being that of Carolyn McCormick, who is best known as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet from the long running NBC police procedural Law and Order. Sometimes actors with little experience can drag a film down, making it almost unwatchable. But that is not the case here; these newbies hold their own due to a good script written by Patrick Steele, who is also the films' director.
The thought of a child going missing is every parent's worst nightmare, but if that child comes home it should be a festive occasion. However, when Marianne returns it is almost immediate that something is wrong, and both parents sense this. Becky deals with her daughter's strange behavior by pretending that everything is just like it was before -- which wasn't so great either -- and ignoring the troublesome behaviors that Marianne is exhibiting. Reg becomes more distant; before she vanished, Marianne was quite close to her father, but upon her return, he purposely avoids her. We find out later why Reg's behavior is so strange as the story slowly unwinds in a manner that keeps you engaged but also off balance. We see a family whose bond is already fragile, and only worsens upon Marianne's disappearance and her return.
Reg Land has three other roles to his credit -- two are short films -- but he looks like a much more seasoned pro than his bio would suggest. Marianne Porter is a young actress with even less experience than Land, but performs quite well in what amounts to the lead role in the film. McCormick is good as the self-obsessed mother, but surprisingly enough, considering she is the actor with the most experience, her role is the least memorable -- it's just hard to make shallow interesting.
True Nature is more than just a thriller; it is a story of the most unthinkable betrayal that spurs one character to overcome dire circumstances in order to enact their revenge. Patrick Steele shows, in this film at least, that he has a grasp of what it takes to make a compelling story, and proves that a thriller doesn't have to contain tons of gore and violence to be chilling.
True Nature is a standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen release, with a fine Dolby 5.1 Surround track. At times the sound effects are overpowering, while the dialogue is spoken almost in a whisper, so I found myself constantly adjusting the volume depending on the scene. Regardless, this film is definitely worth a rental and even a purchase. The extras are minimal, just the director's commentary, and a feature on the CGI effects -- the use of which is so wonderfully understated, that I didn't even realize which scenes contained them.
True Nature is a well thought out film that's devoid of the endless carnage often seen in movies of this nature. It's a pleasant surprise for those of us who prefer our horror more cerebral and less bloody.
This is truly Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Monarch Home Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site