I love a good, dramatic action movie as much as the next person, but sometimes, a more subtle, slightly more unnerving film can be just as impactful.
For me, “Low Tide” harmonized a coming-of-age film with a dark and compelling film about a friend group and a hidden treasure.
Think “The Goonies,” but more volatile.
Written and directed by Kevin McMullin, “Low Tide” follows four teens; Red, Smitty, and brothers Alan and Peter, who spend their summers along the Jersey Shore. When Alan and Peter stumble upon some old-fashioned and valuable treasure, it catapults the already rocky friend group into an escalating path of suspicion and betrayal that could spell danger for all of them.
There was a lot to unpack with this film, as simple as it seemed when I first watched it. Vaguely reminiscent of many of the classic ’80s adventure movies like “The Goonies” and “Stand By Me,” “Low Tide” subtly unfolds the ways in which envy and greed become the catalyst for an adulthood come too soon and the childhood youth which gets lost in the fray.
One of the more interesting things about “Low Tide” is how it can be incredibly subtle in some ways and incredibly heavy-handed in others. While it is very obvious to the viewer which characters they’re supposed to identify as bad or good, how each of the characters behaves is done in rather subtle and crafty ways that make that good/bad dichotomy believable.
Another way in which the film succeeds is with its casting and characters, and with coming-of-age films, the cast and characters are the most important. All of the characters felt believable and while a good chunk of that is in part of how the film and script are written, how those characters are brought to life by the cast is equally, if not more, important.
Two of the best characters in the film come through Red (Alex Neustaedter) and Peter (Jaeden Martell). Though both characters share many of the same traits, such as being observant, sharp, and cautious, they are separated not only by Red’s anger issues, but his inherently jealous nature.
While the plot is engaging in a very low-key and understated way, the film never feels like it’s lagging. Every decision McMullin makes in the film has a purpose and it makes for a deeply authentic viewing experience about being a teen in a dead-end town an how the bonds we forge in our youths splinter and crack as we grow.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]