Producer(s): John Goodwin, Brittany Goodwin, Gil Johnson, Miranda Dixon, Richard Chilton
Starring: Kelsey Steele, Elizabeth Potthast, Kelly Bartram, Olivia Arokiasamy, Jacob Briggs
Plot summary: 19-year old C.J. has lost touch with her childhood best friend, Sophia, ever since she left small-town Willow Springs for college in the city the year prior. Realizing how much they’ve grown apart, Sophia insists that C.J. spends fall break at her late grandfather’s cabin, where they used to spend every summer together. CJ and her new city girl friends Jocelyn and Amber embrace the wooded retreat but their excitement quickly turns to dread when they discover a vagabond living in a run-down trailer on the property. Heeding his warnings against them, the group of girls’ decision to cut their trip short is foiled when Sophia disappears into the vast wooded terrain. As their fear and suspicions turn the girls against each other, C.J. and her friends must find Sophia and decide if they are safer inside the cabin or out. The story combines suspense with personal conflict and explores how faith is tested and relied on in times of trouble.
When a snowstorm hits unexpectedly, six teenagers are trapped at Eastbrook High to wait it out. None of them want to be there, and each of them as a secret to hide. As time goes on, frustrations and stress increase, which causes the secret stories to come to light one by one. However, the storm also continues to worsen, which threatens their safety. Will they be able to make it out before it’s too late?
Production Quality (2 points)
Although it appears the budget was somewhat limited, Secrets in the Snow has a mostly good production, including fine audio, video, and camera quality. However, the soundtrack is a bit generic and loud at times, and the sets, locations, and props are understandably limited by design, even though they are well-utilized for the most part. There is also some inconsistent lighting, as well as some randomly shaky moments of camera work, but the editing is good. As a whole, this is an above average production that could have been slightly better than it was.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
John and Brittany Goodwin have always attempted to develop their characters through backstories, so the effort to do this in this film is definitely commendable. However, since this is a heavily character-based plot with almost nothing but the characters to hold it up, we needed to see much deeper character development and growth through meaningful conversations and flashbacks. The dialogue therein needed to be less shallow and less scripted, and there are too many wasted scenes on activities that don’t build characters or help us to understand who they are as people. Even still, this is a non-typical and mostly creative plot structure that demonstrates the true potential the Goodwins have as both screenwriters and film makers. As they continue to grow in their careers, we expect great things from what they have to offer as they continue to deepen their character development over time because we know that they mean well and want to do their best.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Like other parts of this film, the cast members also mean well, but some of the line delivery and emotions come off as overly practiced and not natural enough. Some performances seem to stilted and measured while some lines appear to be read. However, there is plenty of positive here as most of the cast members appear to be comfortable with their character roles and seem to be committed to the process. As a whole, this is an average film, which is great for a debut.
After this film and If You’re Gone, the Goodwins and their team are definitely on the cusp of something great. Once they are able to deepen their characters and refine their plot structures, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with since they have already rectified their production and acting shortcomings. As the Goodwins continue to produce their own source material for films, we anticipate better things from them in the near future.
Brad and Lillian believed that they were meant to be together forever. When Brad graduates from high school, Lillian believes this will not affect their relationship as she has one more year to go. However, on the night of the graduation, Lillian’s life is changed forever when Brad disappears for days without contacting anyone. The town searches for him and holds vigils for him, but nothing ever comes of it all as the months go by with no word about Brad’s whereabouts. Lillian’s emotions collapse as she can think of nothing else besides the future life she thought she had. Will she be able to pick herself back up and remember the faith she claims to have had?
Production Quality (2.5 points)
After several years of trial and error, the production efforts of husband-and-wife movie team John and Brittany Goodwin have paid off. Though If You’re Gone had a modest budget, it was allocated very well. This is evident in the professional video quality and camera work. The soundtrack is a very good original creation, and the audio quality is spot-on. Sets, locations, and props, though somewhat limited, are utilized very well. The only minor issues to point out here that keep this production from being perfect are some inconsistent lighting and some slight editing issues, but as a whole, this is a very professional production that gives great hope for the future of Every New Day Pictures.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Based on the original novel from the Goodwins, If You’re Gone delivers a unique plot and a compelling message. Though the story can be a bit slow at times, there are some great conversations and dialogue throughout that seek to build characters. However, there were still some missed opportunities to use dialogue to deepen characters just a tad more since this is a character-based story with only a handful of characters. These missed opportunities are most evident in the middle of the film as it appears to only serve to fill time with montages and somewhat repeated scenes in order to get to the ending. Though some audiences may not hold on for the end, the conclusion is definitely worth the wait as it contains an unexpected twist combined with a very unique and empowering message that one does not see very often in Christian film. This ending is very much worth your time, but it would have been even better to see some flashbacks in the middle of the film that helped us to further understand why the characters did what they did and that expanded upon the family of origin issues that were touched on. This story was clearly written for the excellent ending, so it would have likely been Hall of Fame if the lead-up was more engaging. Even still, some will find this movie to be worthwhile and interesting.
Acting Quality (2 points)
For the most part, the cast of If You’re Gone appears to be well-coached as each cast member does a good job assuming his or her respective role quite well. Masey McLain is always a great lead, but it might have helped for her to have further support since some cast members come off as a bit weak and detracting from the overall score. However, emotions and line delivery are above average as a whole, which rounds out this film very well.
The Goodwins have persevered for several years in pursuit of the greatest film, and they have a unique opportunity to create their own source material by writing it before making their own films out of it. They have always been close to the mark, and with If You’re Gone, they have come even closer. Production is in a good spot for them, and acting is nearly perfect. The next step forward for their team is to ensure stronger plots to accompany their great messaging. Writing stories can be difficult, so it may be a good opportunity to adapt other source material as well since the Christian fiction world is replete with options. In summary, If You’re Gone is definitely a good film, and the Goodwins are one step away from true greatness.