“The Girl on the Mountain” from Matt Sconce brings a capable little thriller to the On Demand and digital markets this week. Starring Daniel O’Reilly as Jack, this story centers on a grieving man seeking an escape from the world and his inner torment in the dense wilderness. He stumbles across a young girl named Aria played by Makenzie Sconce. She’s on the run from something and through an uneasy alliance, this man will attempt to find redemption as he vows to protect her from what she’s fleeing.
The recipe in this movie does consist of the usual blend of ingredients for the sub-genre. Yet, it doesn’t hinder the impact of the beautiful surroundings from consuming you into the settings. We meet this man on the brink of taking his own life, flashbacks of his past life frame-up the mystery of what brought him to this point, and it does conjure a modest curiosity. These seeds of Jack’s life as a music conductor and his broken relationship with his family are planted throughout the first act with splashes of appeal, regardless of its familiarities.
This is when young Mackenzie Sconce enters the picture and from there, I think the intrigue does increase. I really enjoyed O’Reilly and Sconce together. Their uneasy and awkward chemistry felt natural, and watching their friendship grow through the ups and downs of their trek through the forest does provide a satisfying amount of intrigue. More flashbacks of Jack and Aria’s life leading up to their meeting fills the bulk of the middle act. It does result in a lull as the pace slows and the story seems to circle around without much forward movement.
However, the frequent engaging conversations between Jack and Aria, as well as the pieces of the puzzle to the past falling into place with a quicker pace on the back half, does save the intrigue and the film’s ability to hold your attention. There’s a simple sincerity between O’Reilly and Sconce that carries the emotional pulse while watching. Although, to counter them is a collection of characters inserted as the villains that were a drawback. The writing for these characters was a bit on-the-nose, the performances were a bit over embellished, and it missed the mark.
It results in the most tension filled moments being undercut by a shallow evil that draws more of a chuckle than inspiring uneasiness. Which is unfortunate, because with a couple tweaks and toning down the dialogue these characters who fuel the final act confrontation would’ve had more authenticity and less stereotypical tropes to build personality types. Yet, in the end, “The Girl on the Mountain” does have its positives. If you like thrillers set out in the wilderness, I recommend it. The two leads bring effort, and it can easily lure you into the narrative and have you hoping to see that all ends well for them.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.