The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE TENT | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE TENT

the tent review
Hiding in the woods from unseen monsters, an elderly man is discovered by a young woman.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Kyle Couch

Starring: Tim Kaiser, Lulu Dahl, Shelby Bradley

the tent poster

David is making a survival video; talking directly to camera, he tells us there are three things you need to know in order to live. Treated to excerpts from this video throughout The Tent’s runtime, we eventually learn what these three things are. Spoiler alert - they’re not exactly coming out of left field and seem like good old-fashioned common sense, especially to anyone who may have ever watched a survivalist movie.

But that’s not really the point of the video at all, and this is something we the audience come to learn too.

Apparently there’s been some sort of apocalyptic event called ‘The Crisis’ and now there are monsters hunting humans. Since then, our man David has been living out in the woods, eating by bonfires, whittling himself some weapons, navigating by the sun and living in his eponymous tent.

the tent review

After literally stepping into one of his own traps he has no choice but to trust the young woman who came along out of the woods to free him.

Her name is Mary and she’s been watching him.

Unfortunately she seems to have no idea about the dangers all around them, which is weird considering that she’s obviously been outside so I’m unsure why she would suggest they get a doctor for his leg wound considering they are in the woods surrounded by killer creatures.

David’s limited but relatively safe existence is threatened by the change Mary brings.

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But what are her motivations? Where did she come from? It’s a mystery, but there’s one thing for sure, there is no way he’s going to let her into the tent.

Troubled by the de rigueur flashbacks that fill in the backstory for the audience, he may have to learn to let someone in.

As written and directed by Kyle Couch, I like that the creatures are never seen. What we hear and imagine is often far more frightening than what is shown onscreen, and it also means that the film is not hamstrung by a lack of budget. But the things David yells as they are attacked, such as “this isn’t happening” or “this is a dream” seem quite ridiculous, given that he’s been living in the forest to protect himself from these creatures, so he is well aware of their presence.

the tent review

The wound on David’s leg could have led to tetanus, which would’ve been a far more interesting tangent in my opinion, and infection is mishandled in both appearance and effect. David gives up far too easily when wounded, particularly for someone who we believe has survived on his own for a long time by sheer determination.

Interestingly, neither of them look particularly weathered either, with their clean skin and clothes, neat hair and casual demeanours. She comes across as completely clueless to the dangers they’re in and he espouses his lengthy blocks of dialogue like he is presenting a lecture to her, likely more of a case of script deficits rather than performance. It all seems very underdeveloped and meandering until suddenly it isn’t, and all the things that were previously bothersome in the script, fall into place.

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This is a good looking film with some shots beautifully framed, though I did find the soundtrack distracting in its misplaced tone, and some sound quality was uneven, especially during the scenes set in the tent itself. The performances by Tim Kaiser as David and Lulu Dahl as Mary start somewhat underwhelming but improve vastly once the true intentions of the film are revealed.

I enjoyed the resolution and it did make me consider the film in a more positive light; with the recent Relic tackling similar themes and doing so with aplomb, I am, as always, pleased when my horrors have deeper intentions than just to scare you.

the tent review

Perhaps knowing the ‘twist’ beforehand might have added to the experience, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Nevertheless this movie has heart and its narrative missteps are mostly forgiven by the end.

This is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is obviously a deeply personal film, and as such it’s difficult to review this objectively. Truth be told, until the reveal it’s not exactly a great movie but afterwards you’re in a different place altogether and you can reflect back on what came before with kinder eyes.

The Tent is on US VOD now. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2020 movie reviews