I love independent films. I don’t like hollywood blockbusters. They lack substance. However, what you get when you make a conscious choice to seek subject matter with gravitas is subject matter that could end up being disturbing. In this post, I’m going to describe just how disturbed I was by a film called Suspicious River.

So it’s the story of a young woman who works as a guest check-in clerk at a small town motel. In addition to checking in the clients, she also CHECKS-THEM-OUT to see if they need some… personal attention. Note: The only people who check-in to this motel are men… Suspicious… CHECK…

One of the guests she checks-in ends up intrigued by her and comes back for more. Of course, in the end, he’s picked up on her vulnerability, used it to his advantage to very easily win her favor and turned it into a money-making proposition.

Over the course of the film, we learn things like – she’s married and her husband has either an eating disorder or has recently lost a lot of weight. They make reference to his eating habits, but, never get much further into it.

We also learn that as a child, her parents had a dysfunctional marriage – big surprise there – which has scarred her. The film also weaves in lots of flashbacks which were not necessarily used in the most clear way.

What we don’t find out is whether she’s offering her services for money because she needs it or if she’s just completely mess up and the money is simply a product of the dysfunction. I think it’s the latter…

And then, the film just ends without any clear direction about where this story goes next. The only thing the ending confirmed for me is: SHE LIVES. Disturbing without being redeeming.

I didn’t connect with any of the characters… I didn’t get a sense of any of the character’s stories – with exception of the main character who is a hooker with no purpose – and the story didn’t wrap itself up. It felt very much like another indy film called The Brown Bunny, which, was also disturbing without being redeeming.

But, that’s what you sign up for when you take on the indy film. It might hand you a complete package, beginning to end or, you might get an ending cloaked in controversy. You may even get something you don’t care to recall.

I can’t say I’m not glad I saw this film – I’m glad I saw it. It gave me a story I hadn’t heard before and for that I’m pleased. But, my final thought about Suspicious River is: Disturbing without being redeeming. Ball’s in your court now…