Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Potter's Ground: Movie Review

Unique style, poor story.
Potter’s Ground opens on a dry, bare expanse of land. A family, during the Civil War, is burying their dog. The young daughter nonchalantly says the monsters under her bed did it. Parents, as they are prone to do, tried to reassure her that there are no monsters living under her bed. There is no such thing as monsters. However, when children aren’t scared so much as confident in their beliefs, they are usually right about something.   2021

Directed by: Michael Butts

Screenplay by: Scott Crain

Starring: Isaiah Stratton, Scott Crain

Indeed, the film wasted no time establishing the bad guys who are living under their house. It then jumps backwards in time. With the mystery established, it’s time to start building the story to answer who they are and why they’re living under the house. Unfortunately, the story is hard to get into. The era and setting are supposed to provide most of the intrigue, but for those of us not interested in the genre, there’s not much else to connect us to these characters.

For audience members who are into western action/crime drama movies and can more easily get interested in the story, Potter’s Ground has built itself a nice foundation. The setting and use of locales is excellent for a period indie. A lot of outdoor forested areas and wide open land, and effective use of a few taverns or houses recreated for the era. The cinematography is also well done recognizing this strength of the movie.

There’s also a really unique style here. I have to give them props for adding a unique style to a genre that typically doesn’t go there, but I found it way more off-putting than appealing. We’ll start with the dialogue, which is a curious mix of modern dialogue with language more fitting the era. I found myself asking way too often if a character really would talk like that in that century. On the one hand, it takes you out of the story; however, on the other hand it also never sounded like they were trying to recreate Nathanial Hawthorne or any other stuffy 19th century writer and has dialogue more accessible to today’s audiences.

Not helping the lack of connection to the story is a very choppy structure. Each scene is introduced with a quote. A quote that will be said by a character and presumably provides intrigue into what’s coming next. Instead, the main effect is a story with zero flow. The introductory quotes make each scene appear more random than they actually are. Since the story is hard enough to get into in the first place, the sub-header scenes don’t help.

Potter’s Ground is a well made film, especially for fans of the genre, who will hopefully appreciate its unique style more than I did. However, if you’re not into western crime dramas in the first place, the lack of connection to the story fails to make it more interesting.