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.
Eli Zeal is just minding his own business as a convenience store owner when Thaniel Battle, a kid mixed up with the wrong crowd accidentally shoots Eli in an armed robbery. This prompts his mother, Tyree Battle, to take Eli and her son back to her hometown to escape trouble with the law. Basically a hostage, Eli meets Tyree’s eccentric family in a backwards small town, who try to heal his wound using their own sort of medicine. Will Eli ever be able to escape the crazy house he’s stuck in?
Production Quality (1.5 points)
As an early 2000s\late 1990s production, Waterproof tends to have an air of looking archaic most of the time. This mostly pertains to the odd video quality, even though camera work is professional. Audio quality is okay except for the loud soundtrack and some random background noises. For the most part, sets, locations, and props are realistic, thus making for authentic historical surroundings. The editing is fairly good throughout, and other elements show improvement as the film goes on. In the end, this is an average production, which is pretty good for the time frame.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
Unfortunately, Waterproof begins in a very odd manner, with a very eccentric tone and premise that dominates nearly three-fourths of the film. The circumstances presented are almost unrealistic as they come off as cobbled-together and forced. This story is mostly a return-to-hometown plot combined with a prodigal plot, only it comes with extremely off-the-wall characters that are trying too hard to provide comic relief. Sometimes the story comes off as downright crazy as it is quite hard to take seriously. For the first half of the film, it tends to meander along with no real purpose, and then near the end, it suddenly produces a profound message that is tied to an important character backstory. However, for most audiences, this gem will be too late into the movie for it to be found due to the unusual beginning. On the whole, it is very difficult to understand the true meaning of this story, apart from the good ending.
Acting Quality (2 points)
With professional cast members, this cast is mostly fine, even though some actors and actresses tend to be a bit forceful and stilted with their line delivery and emotions. Other cast members are being purposely eccentric to fit their characters, but I guess they didn’t have a choice. In the end, this is an above-average acting job that makes the film at least half-palatable.
It is hard to know or understand what this movie was actually going for. Was this intended to be a satire? If it was meant to be realistic, the eccentricities needed to be packaged a little differently. It seems like there were many different and better ways the important message at the end could have been presented. We may never know what was meant by this film, but perhaps someone can make an improved version of it one day.