A very unconventional horror/mystery/thriller hybrid, Daniel Peddle's Sunset Edge is the type of film that is sure to infuriate most filmgoers, being a meditative, slow-burning study of loss, time, and youth. The film features two dueling narratives, one involving a group of suburban teens who rummage through the decaying, abandoned homes of Sunset Edge, while the other focuses on Malachi, a lonely, socially-awkward teenager, who was adopted by his grandfather after a tragedy in Sunset Edge. The first segment of the film is very much in the vein of a Southern coming-of-age story, following these four disenchanted youth with great naturalism, as they kill time among the decaying mobile homes of Sunset Edge. The film captures the disenchantment of these characters as they talk, slowly revealing their growing realization that the world around them is much bigger than themselves. The other segment is a much more brooding and emotionally affecting, with Daniel Peddle really putting on a masterclass in how to tell a story through visual means. There is barely any dialogue throughout this entire segment, yet Peddle uses digital photography to perfection, constructing the tragic past of Malachi, examining the emotionally taxing journey his life has been up to this point, mostly due to a tragic past. I've always found it particularly fascinating when a documentary filmmaker goes the narrative route, and Sunset Edge is no exception, as Daniel Peddle shows an uncanny respect for setting in his narrative debut. The decaying mobile homes, barren landscape, and quietness of Sunset edge are a character onto itself, evoking this sense of deep-seeded tragedy, an area that has been forgotten, left behind, much like one of its main characters' Malachi, who carries much of the emotional weight of this story. Using only natural lighting, Sunset Edge reeks of authenticity, and the use of a free-flowing, oscillating camera gives the film a very Malick-ian vibe in stretches, encapsulating the environment in which these characters inhabit, the stale air and decay. The meaning of Sunset Edge is somewhat ambiguous, but what I really appreciated about the film is how its true horror aspect is completely based in reality, tapping into the psyche of the character of Malachi, expressing the true horror of loss and its association with impending loneliness and isolation, both emotionally and physically. One could argue that Sunset Edge is really a film about the privledge of youth, contrasting the aimless lifestyle of these four young teenagers with that of Malachi, a young man who has lived a more complicated life than anyone his age should ever have to. More unsettling than scary, Sunset Edge is perhaps the closest thing humanity will ever get to a Terrence Malick directed horror film, being an impressive, meditative study of emotional distress, decay and loss, which combines Gothic horror pastiche with coming-of-age naturalism.
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