“The Ground that Sinks” is a drama that’s based around the death of Paige’s father and forces her to reconcile with her own demons along with trying to reconnect with her family.
The thing I liked the most about this film is the dialogue of the characters. It felt real and believable given the situation of a family member dying. Each character has very distinct speech patterns and feel very fleshed out. From the very beginning we get to see each major character show their inner-struggle in a very complex way, which is exactly how it is in real life. It’s never too on the nose. It’s as if it’s based more on realism rather than escapism, which really set the tone of the movie.
Another thing I really liked was how many long takes there were in this film. Seeing as how the budget was under $5,000, it makes sense as they would have a shorter production period and not enough time to get coverage shots. This is an hour and a half long. They made a feature for five grand essentially and I find that incredible. Going back to the long takes, there were moments that made me feel like I was observing this dysfunctional family. When the camera is up close and personal with a character and stays on them during a conversation, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. I loved that aspect. And the long takes worked particularly well in the last ten minutes. It was a slow burning moment that had a satisfying punch to it.
The downside of the long takes: the other characters. We never get to see what their reactions are. Perhaps that was the filmmaker’s intention, and if that’s the case, so be it. There are moments, however, where they could add more creativity to the shots to include the other characters. I love long takes and there are plenty of great shots in this film, but some of the scenes felt like they only existed as “fillers” because of how static the camera movement was. I know this whole movie has a lot of dialogue that’s important to the characters and the stories, but the lack of slow, fluid motion, really bogged down the stuff that was being said and at points made me zone out for a few seconds.
Another minor issue I had was the audio was a bit too quiet at times. Since this movie hardly has any music and a lot of quiet scenes, those audio levels could have been boosted just a little bit. Some of the scenes could have benefitted from a simple underscore to keep a scene going where the camera movement goes static.
Despite those few criticisms, I overall enjoyed the film. The acting was good, the writing was especially good, and the fact they did this for under $5,000 and made it cohesive has me really impressed. I would be curious to see what else director Brandon C. Lay is able to pull off if he had more money and time. The whole thing felt real and believable and I was left wondering what was going to happen to these characters in life because it was so depressing at times.