Tag Archives: Kate Lyn Sheil

The Woman in the Gorge

The Seeding

by Hope Madden

Writer/director Barnaby Clay reimagines Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Oscar nominated 1964 classic The Woman in the Dunes as a Pacific Northwestern horror in The Seeding.

A man (Scott Haze, What Josiah Saw, Antlers) drives out to the desert for the best possible photos of a solar eclipse. He leaves his car, hikes a good way, gets the photos, and heads back to his car, but he’s sidetracked by a boy crying that he’s lost. The boy then gets the man lost. Eventually, alone and thirsty, the man climbs down a rope ladder into a gorge to ask a woman (Kate Lyn Sheil, She Dies Tomorrow) in the lone house for aid.

Next thing you know, the rope ladder is gone.

Like Teshigahara’s film, The Seeding examines the existential crisis of purposelessness and lack of freedom. But Clay’s film is definitely American in that the roots of the entrapment speak more of something monstrous and primal in the wilds of the nation’s last unconquered spaces.

This works to an extent. Haze is solid, if not particularly sympathetic, as frustration turns to terror, then to horror. Sheil’s enigmatic performance suits a character whose motivation and perspective are concealed.

The couple’s story is complicated by the taunts from a gaggle of sadistic boys roaming the rim of the gorge. Here Clay veers from Teshigahara’s path and into something closer to The Hills Have Eyes and declares the film horror. There’s also some vaguely Lovecraftian imagery, as if these feral desert dwellers worship something far older and more cosmic than this man could understand.

It sounds like an interesting meshing of ideas, but if comes off as a bit of a sloppy mess.

Clay, known primarily for directing music videos, nabs a handful of really impressive shots. And both leads benefit from a single opportunity to outright break down, which both do quite impressively.

But the film is too impatient. Clay reexamines an existential nightmare addressed many times (I’m Not Scared, John and the Hole) and turns to a mixed bag of horror tropes to limit its impact.

Revealing Our Privates in Public


by Christie Robb

With Materna, director David Gutnik presents four emotional vignettes of women and their relationships with either their mother figures, their children, or both.

While the four women’s stories intersect in a brief, tense moment on a New York subway car, their backstories and how they came to be in that particular car are quite different.

The flashbacks don’t depict simple, saccharine, Hallmark Mother’s Day card relationships. These relationships are layered and complicated—with longing and frustration, the urge to shelter and the urge to smack.

Each of the four lead actresses, Kate Lyn Sheil, Jade Eshete, Lindsay Burdge, and Assol Abdullina, rises to the challenge and convincingly demonstrates the emotional range of her subject. (Eshete and Abdullina also co-wrote the screenplay with Gutnik.)

Rory Culkin shows up to illustrate that the maternal instinct is not solely the purview of those with two X chromosomes.

It’s not a perfect film. The initial segment, while it does pique the viewer’s interest, maybe doesn’t best set the stage for the ones that follow. There are elements that seem to signal sci-fi or body horror that aren’t carried through in the rest of the film. And because of the brevity of each of the vignettes, some of them seem a little roughly sketched, lacking in details that would more solidly ground the perspective of the woman depicted.

At the point of intersection in the subway car, each of the women is keeping herself to herself and adhering to the unspoken etiquette of public transportation. But then a white man starts loudly trying to engage them in conversation that quickly devolves into harassment and violence.

This screaming, egomaniac clearly sees himself as the most important person in the shared space and aims to capture everyone’s attention, making his private life public, doing a kind of emotional manspreading. It’s interesting to contrast this with what the women are dealing with and how their private lives either do or do not impact this public space.  

This is Gutnik’s first feature film and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.