Arcadian  (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Benjamin Brewer, US, 2024, 92mins,

Cast:  Nicolas Cage, Jaeden Martell, Maxwell Jenkins, Sadie Soverall

Review by Kristen Platt

This film transitions seamlessly from dreamy, rural, coming-of-age story, to balls to the wall creature horror.  It’s very good at both, and an absolute gem.

Centered on a father and his two teenage sons living their best post-apocalyptic lives in an isolated cottage, everything revolves around sundown, when the family hunkers down, and the Bad Things come out. So far, so Omega Man. Then one day, one of the boys fails to return by sundown, and their father goes out to find him. And that’s where this film blows all expectations out of the water, simultaneously delivering both the most satisfying story a horror fan could wish for, and still delivering on the coming-of-age story.

Firstly, the cast. Nicolas Cage in a genre movie can go one of two ways.  In this, he gives a very restrained performance. Possibly the first post-apocalyptic Gentle Parenting adherent. Rightfully, the stars are the three young people who give outstanding performances. These kids are smart, capable, angry, frustrated, and funny. The chemistry between the brothers feels particularly authentic.

The coming-of-age part of the story is full of optimistic score, gorgeous pastoral shots, golden hour light, and aching teen longing.

But the horror part is where this movie excels. Moments of stomach churning, unbearable tension, deftly executed jump scares, and visceral horror combine to satisfy even the most jaded genre fan. Director Benjamin Brewer expertly uses horror tropes such as half-glimpses of the creatures, as well as showing them in all their (disturbing) glory.

There’s so much to love about it, largely because what could so easily have been the climax of the story is actually the climax of the first act.  From there on in, you’re just clinging on for the ride. It packs a huge amount of horror, action, and heart into a lean 93 minute run time.

If you’re looking for a smart, tight, horror movie, this is very definitely for you.