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‘Go North’ (review)

Produced by Josh Gold, Jay Thames
Written by Kyle Lierman, Matt Ogens
Directed by Matt Ogens
Starring Jacob Lofland, Sophie Kennedy Clark,
Patrick Schwarzenegger, James Bloor

 

Sorta-kinda post-apocalyptic riff on Lord of the Flies, co-writer/director Matthew Ogens’ Go North sounded pretty cool on paper.

After a catastrophe that leaves (presumably) the nation with no living adults, a group of teens in a small community live by necessity (and, it soon becomes clear, by force) as a tight-knit group with rigid rules and routines.

The older kids – all jocks – rule the roost, making sure the younger kids attend the impromptu school, which teaches hunting and trapping, gardening and other survival trades.

The jocks also mete out punishment for rule-breaking, usually resulting in the offending party “walking The Line”, a euphemism for being forced out of the community and surviving by themselves in an unfamiliar area.

Our main protagonist, Josh, yearns to get out, and he wants the cute Jessie to join him. Unfortunately, Jessie is the younger sister of the head jock, Caleb, who isn’t about to let that happen.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic flicks, from Mad Max: Fury Road to The Road to the undervalued Stakeland, so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, Go North is mediocre through and through, with mostly weak acting and almost zero story thrust.

Jacob Lofland as Josh gives an adequate performance, but as written and performed, is surprisingly not especially relatable or interesting.

The Carol Lynley-esque Clark is a bright spot as Jessie, despite some moments and line readings that just don’t register (blame the dialogue and direction as well).

I was very curious to see Patrick Schwarzenegger as Caleb.  Yes, he’s the son of Arnold and Maria Shriver.  He’s got the look of the part, but he gives a remarkably dull performance, alas.  Perhaps he’ll grow into an able actor (after all, his dad was lousy in his first few roles; yes, I love me some Conan The Barbarian as much as anyone, but Arnie’s performance in that fun film is far from his best).

The main flaw in Go North is the pacing: glacial would be a charitable term. The acting, direction and writing are so devoid of urgency and passion that after a   while the whole film has the feel of a cast and crew just wanting to get the thing over with.

There are some mildly intriguing, chronological flashbacks to the start of the catastrophe that are sprinkled throughout. Unfortunately, the culmination of the flashbacks is a big, fat shrug.

Also, the cinematography is utterly uninspired, with useless drone shots that mostly just slow the film down even more. “Suspense” scenes are shot and directed in such a way as to suggest an experimental filmmaker attempting to make a misguided commentary by filming the scenes so as to render them as suspense-free as possible.

Combine these big problems with an incessant, obnoxious score and you’ve got the makings of a snooze fest.

This wasn’t the kind of bad movie that made me angry; it just was a dull, passionless disappointment.

 

Go North arrives today in limited theatrical release
and is available On Demand.

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