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Review: Kyle Couch’s “The Tent”

It wouldn’t be summer without a few creature features, and honestly I didn’t expect one quite like this. The Tent, the new feature film from 1926 Pictures and Songbird Films, is a rustic and independent monster movie that blends horror, drama and psychological trauma into one unique piece of cinema. Written, directed and co-starring Kyle Couch, The Tent finds a duo of survivors living in a tent following an apocalyptic event known as “The Crisis.” Now, creatures referred to as “Those Who Walk in Darkness” stalk the living. When tensions start rising between the duo, David and Mary, it becomes clear the boundary between the dead, the living and the fragile in-between is about to collide in an unspeakable way. Lulu Dahl, Tim Kaiser and Shelby Bradley also star in the film from executive producers Nancy Lynette Parker, Tim Kaiser and Patty Kaiser. Find The Tent on demand courtesy of Gravitas Ventures; with a DVD edition currently pending. And here’s why you should check out this title.

As I mentioned above, The Tent is an independent flick that feels as earthy and rustic as the landscape it takes place in. Robert Skates served as cinematographer and David Peterson served as editor, and I don’t have any complaints in regards to this film as far as visual appeal goes. I mean, it is the end of the world and you don’t expect everything to be super polished and bright, right? I will say, though, that I was somewhat annoyed by the constant use of close-ups and medium shots, which completely dominate the style of this movie. I don’t know why everything was filmed so closely, instead of capitalizing on the environment and the title indicating enclosure. Creative choice, perhaps? I also found some problems with the acting; not that it was bad by any means. For me, however, I felt like Tim Kaiser and Lulu Dahl were always just one notch under the emotional spectrum they needed to perform in.

The Tent reminded me of A Quiet Place, especially when David and Mary are trying to figure out how to move around without being discovered. The creatures are mysterious, too, and I was waiting for them to break through the fabric of the tent and attack its occupants. But they never did. Why? Well, you’re just going to have to watch The Tent to find out. The creatures are often relegated to point-of-view shots and menacing growls, which adds to the suspense of the film and the desire to see “Those Who Walk in Darkness” in all their glory. Speaking of suspense, David becomes a major liability throughout the course of the story, and probably what saved him was the fact that this narrative doesn’t call for a large body count or gallons of gore. That’s always a bit of a downer, especially in the horror genre, but I can appreciate a narrative that’s built on drama and thematic elements more than stereotypical cliches. Can you?

Then, you get to the ending. The psychologically fucked up ending. It left me genuinely shocked to my core and staring at my computer screen in silence. I was not expecting the conclusion nor the emotionally punch it delivered to my stomach. As someone who has experience with the shocking turn-out of events, I was devastated almost to the point of tears. So, that’s something for you to look forward to. Look, The Tent isn’t perfect and misses some important cues from its own universe, but the point of a movie is to move an audience towards a specific emotion; and boy, did The Tent do that. For that reason alone, I can’t fault it. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)