Enter Nowhere – Art 1/5 Ent 3/5 Worth 2/5
Is it possible that small budget films could one day make Hollywood leviathans redundant? This film made by a bunch of nobodies proves that maybe, just maybe it’s possible. Starring Scott Eastwood, Katherine Waterston and Sara Paxton, Enter Nowhere is a mysterious low budget film that unwraps itself slowly as three characters gradually discover why they’re dropped randomly into a shack in the middle of nowhere. All three are cautious of one another, and have some sordid story or another to reveal, leaving the film somewhat haunting but not quite in a horror way. At the risk of giving away the weak plot’s key twist, it ultimately shares the same overarching point as Groundhog Day, but without the acting, comedy, charm, clean logical writing, and scene continuity. Though the unpredictable finale makes the investment of watching seem worth it, the endeavor still seemed pretty inconsequential, hollow and meaningless.
So this movie ain’t all that great. Two of the three actors are only in the business because of their parents (Clint Eastwood, Sam Waterston), and the third (Paxton, distantly related to Bill) seemingly because she’ll do any low budget horror film that comes to her. The story is just a bit too precious, even for the genre it only reveals itself to be in the final act. The dialog is … euh. What’s good about it is a fairly short list of uninspiring things. How the filmmakers came up with an interesting and moody story with a shack in the woods is a cute exercise in making-do. The ‘twist’ that thrusts new meaning upon the story quite suddenly feels neat. But just about everything in this screams “I was filmed for $1.7 million dollars!”, and Great Caesar’s Ghost, it actually was. That’s the bad news, and you can be forgiven on those ‘qualities’ for bypassing this film entirely.
But the good news is that something almost revolutionary is happening in cinema, and this film is an indicator of that shift. This is one of many key mileposts on the road to a digital age cinema distribution system. With the growth of Video On Demand, the almost no-budget distribution over Playstations 3s or cable boxes isn’t necessarily the “death” of a film as if it were direct-to-DVD anymore. There have already been a number of cases where films distributed with VOD quickly hopped back into the regular traditional distribution network of theater chains, most notably Halle Berry’s new film Dark Tide. Of course, Lionsgate decided this film wasn’t worth it and after some deliberations, sent it straight to VOD and direct-to-DVD.
How does Enter Nowhere figure into this radical shift? Well, if you watch this movie and can endure its faults, you’ll quickly notice that with a pocketful of miracles ($1.7M is precisely 1/40th the average industry film budget these days), you can match the big studio films for overall product. Yes, this film was almost entirely shot in a shack in the forest, and yes, the actors are worth their weight in celluloid (that is to say, not much), but this film matched the cheesy ass big studio crap fests in all of their mystery and excitement, albeit without the baroque digital polish and dinosaurs. And still yet, this film is not the standard for what’s to come. If anything it’s a bellwether for endless possibility on low budget films exercising their virtues in a more meritocratic system, wherein $1.7 million can more easily compete with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck pictures. The future is looking brighter every day.