If you’ve had enough of our grievously brief Canadian summer, you can get a jumpstart on deep wintry chill with The Oxbow Cure, on at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for the coming week. Is this Canuck creeper fit to get under your skin? The answer is a jump away…
The sophomore feature from Canadian indie filmmakers Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, The Oxbow Cure is a chilly, mostly wordless film, focused entirely on its star. Claudia Day appears as Lena, a woman who flees the city to a lonely cabin as she struggles with a painful spinal disease and emotional loss. Outside the cabin, it’s deep winter, with drifting snow and a lake frozen over. Gorgeously shot, the sound design is particularly unsettling, as the crack of frozen pines blends into Lena’s agonized stretching on the cabin floor inside. Her isolation is self-imposed, and the film builds quietly, following her routines as they become more erratic. The appearance of a mysterious dog is just the beginning of Lena’s disturbing journey, as she becomes convinced that someone, or something, is in the woods watching her.
Drawing on influences like David Lynch and David Cronenberg, Sheridan graduates Lewis and Thomas have crafted a distinctly Canadian work of dread, oblique and evocative. Lena’s wrestling with her disease is a subtle brand of body horror, but no less wince-inducing. If you like your films with lots of dialogue and action, The Oxbow Cure will probably leave you cold. But sinking into the movie’s hypnotic pulse is distinctly rewarding, with beautiful transformative passages and otherworldly visions. It’s much like a Dogme 95 horror film, and nowhere near the emotional extremity of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. If you want to follow Lena into the woods, you’ll end up somewhere you didn’t expect.
The Oxbow Cure currently appears at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, showing once daily, finishing on Thursday, August 29th. Check the schedule here.