What is The Ones You Didn’t Burn about?
The Ones You Didn’t Burn takes place shortly after the suicide of Nathan (Nathan Wallace) and Mirra’s (Jenna Sander) father. In their father’s will, the siblings are left an old farm that they intend to clean up and sell as the idea of somehow sharing it just wouldn’t work out for them, so while they handle the cleanup of the old farm, they decide to briefly live there to make things easier.
However, the longer they stay there the more strange things seem to start happening, Nathan starts hearing weird sounds and voices that risk pulling him back into past addictions and the dark history of the land the farm is on, a history that goes back to ancient times and does not reflect well on the family… a history that lives on and is determined to get some form of revenge.
The Ones You Didn’t Burn Review
The Ones You Didn’t Burn is, in a wonderful twist considering the title, an incredibly slow burner that takes its sweet time getting going. Even though the film barely clocks in at 70 minutes it spends a good chunk of the opening just going along at a slug’s pace, introducing our main characters and getting us used to the land that they found themselves living on.
You could be fooled into thinking you accidentally put on some family drama instead of a horror film, for a while there isn’t even a sense of dread or anything. However, if you stick with the film, it slowly starts to work on building up to something and once it gets going, it’s actually quite interesting.
The Ones You Didn’t Burn starts kicking into gear when Nathan, who we might think of as the main victim here, starts having strange nightmares involving some beautiful and strange beach imagery that grows weirder and starts to slowly send Nathan off the deep end. The film also introduces Nathan’s friend and horrible influence Greg (Samuel Dunning) who is basically there to pull the recovering addict Nathan off the wagon which makes you question if what’s happening is magic or drug addiction and also helps fuel the central relationship of the film.
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Most of The Ones You Didn’t Burn just spins around the sibling relationship and how it’s been frayed by the addiction at the core of the film, not only does the addiction keep coming up as a major element of their history but it allows for some genuinely unnerving moments that could either be mystical influence or just a bad reaction to the drugs that slowly turn Nathan into a worse person or more accurately reveals the misogynist that seemed to barely hide underneath (because as the film goes on, he turns more and more anti-woman and oh boy does it get intense at times)
That slow build is powerful once it gets going, slowly turning up the creepiness and tension more and more, framing things in such a way that you might think you spot someone off in the distance or just hear something in the background that will unnerve the audience. Because of the slow start and the short length of the film, it doesn’t have much time to really go for broke, but it surprisingly pulls it off, leading to a very intense ending that will confuse and shock, leaving a few lingering questions that will undoubtedly make for a great thesis paper someday.
Indeed throughout The Ones You Didn’t Burn there are a fair few ideas and themes that it uses to build the tone of the film, from the idea of generational trauma to addiction to perhaps the biggest issue that really informs the film, misogyny… shocker, a film with a title that evokes imagery of witches who somehow escaped the sexist witch burnings of the 1600s is using sexism as an element of its horror and it really does make the final half of the film more and more intense.
Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say it goes into territory that’s horrifyingly real and it plays it so well that it justifies the film just ending right there. After that moment, no point in going on because you’ve done what you needed to.
The Ones You Didn’t Burn Overall
The Ones You Didn’t Burn might take a minute to find its footing but once it does it runs as fast as it can and sticks the landing pretty damn well. Its small scale gives it some serious focus and makes for some fascinating little moments. Considering this is a film by a first-time feature film director (Elise Finnerty) there’s a confidence in the filmmaking and in the ideas behind it all that not only make this film a genuinely tense experience but also will make the audience excited to see what this filmmaker does next, there’s so much potential here that you want to see unfold and hopefully, we will.
What did you think of The Ones You Didn’t Burn?
The Ones You Didn’t Burn showed as part of the A Night Of Horror international film festival at Dendy Cinema Newtown from 17th-23rd October 2022
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