Review: Disappearance at Clifton Hill
What do you remember?
Abby (Tuppence Middleton) has returned to her home town following her mother's death to settle her estate. She's plagued by a memory of something she witnessed as a child while spending time at Clifton Hill with her family. She was seven years old, and wandered off only to run into another child with a bloody bandage over his eye, who was then thrown into a car by two adults. In some of her family photos from that day, her mother had captured said car. When she tries to tell her sister, Laure (Hannah Gross) and report it to the police, she's met with skepticism. We learn Abby is a pathological liar and her sister believes this is another tall tale until she starts coming up with more proof, including a run in with a conspiracy theorist podcaster played by David Cronenberg. (seriously) Abby becomes obsessed with cracking the case.
I love mysteries and after reading a few positive reviews around the blogosphere, I was sold on this. It's available to rent on demand for $6.99 which is ultimately worth the price tag. The tone of this film is perfect. It's gloomy and grey and matches the mystery surrounding it well. Abby at one points finds a VHS related to the case and the director chooses to incorporate that 80's video feel into certain scenes. I was genuinely guessing the entire time, which makes for a good mystery.
Middleton was wonderful as Abby. There's plenty of supporting characters about but none get the amount of time she does. She's the closest thing we have to a fleshed out character, but it does bring me to one of the film's weaknesses. We're told Abby lies constantly, but we're never really told why. There's a throwaway scene about her conning people but the film never takes the time to really dive into why she's like that and I think it would've been important. While the film spends time telling us she lies, it never frames her as unreliable when it comes to this particular memory. And because they don't explore her psyche it feels a bit disingenuous.
I'm curious to hear what those who watched it thought about the ending. Personally, I wasn't a fan. The first movie I thought of while writing this was Inception. Inception has an ending that makes you question the nature of what you just watched, but it also leaves it at a satisfying place. One you can say "Oh, well maybe..." but accept where you left off. This one introduces what could've easily been another 10-15 minutes of the movie and feels like it comes out of nowhere. It doesn't ruin the film that came before it by any means, and I wouldn't call it a "terrible" ending, I just think it was kind of cheap. Especially considering how the actor this moment is about played their character throughout the entire film.
That aside, if you're into mysteries this little thriller definitely deserves your attention.
Memorable Quote: "What you're doing here is kind of dopey." - Mrs. Moulin (Marie-Josée Croze)