Disappearance at Clifton Hill (2019) – Film Review
Director: Albert Shin
Cast: Tuppence Middleton, David Cronenberg, Hannah Gross
by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow
After watching a string of grisly horrors in recent months, it’s a refreshing change to enjoy a good, old fashioned mystery thriller.
Channel 5 usually screens a Canadian offering every weekday afternoon, and most are average TV movies about psycho surrogates/babysitters/boyfriends. This is far more enjoyable, despite a frenetic jazz soundtrack that is like nails down a blackboard in the first few minutes. (It becomes more bearable later thankfully).
The plot: following the death of her mother, Abby (Tuppence Middleton), a troubled young woman, returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls and the decrepit motel her family used to run. She soon finds herself drawn back into a mystery that has haunted her since childhood.
“Gets under your skin”
As Abby sets out to discover the truth, she must confront a local eccentric (David Cronenberg), convince her sister (Hannah Gross) and face her own demons.
It’s one of those films that gets under your skin, and the presence of horror maestro Cronenberg is a great selling point. (He’s always good value for money in front of the camera).
Brit actress Tuppence has long helped prop up a string of international productions, and is terrific as Abby, the amateur sleuth determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. She lights up every scene she’s in.
It also boasts a great sci-fi cafe, one of my favourite themed eateries.
There’s so much to it, just when you think you’ve got a handle on the mystery, there’s another curveball. In fact there are more twists and turns than the maze in The Shining.
“Worthy of a sequel”
Co-writer and director Albert Shin does a terrific job of keeping you guessing until the end, and the Fight Club-style rug pull in the third act will make you question whether Abby has imagined the whole thing.
I didn’t have high hopes going in, but this is one of my favourite thrillers of the year. There are no generic chases, apart from one leading up to a fun house, and there are times it borders on parody. A couple of showbiz stars chew every scene they’re in, though the thick French accents might need subtitles.
I could quite happily sit through another mystery with the lead protagonist. Abby is worthy of a sequel, and with any luck Shin and his team will take her on another mysterious adventure. Highly recommended.