24th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘True Fiction’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sara Garcia, John Cassini, Julian Black Antelope, Julian Richings | Written and Directed by Braden Croft


Withdrawn Avery Malone, a wannabe writer and lonely librarian, gets her big break when she’s hand-selected to assist her hero, reclusive author, Caleb Conrad. Whisked away to Caleb’s remote country estate, Avery is given her one and only task: to participate in a controlled psychological experiment in fear that will serve as the basis for Caleb’s next thriller novel. What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out quite a lot!

But let me be honest for a moment. Until the turn of events part way through the film, I was actually about to write off True Fiction completely. The first third of the film follows every cliche, every trope, hitting a myriad of story beats thzt we’ve seen before. Guy scares girl, girl gets scared, girls continues out of sheer infatuation with guy… There’s plenty of familiar tortuous plot points, many of which require a HUGE suspension of belief – after all, who in their right mind, even with the chance of working with an idol, would subject themselves to such behaviour? But then things change and writer/director Braden Croft reveals more about the woman at the heart of this story and that’s when we discover what type of person it ACTUALLY takes!

The best way to describe True Fiction is perhaps a role-reversal of Stephen King’s Misery; but in itself that comparison is too vague, too narrow-minded. There is a lot at play here – from ideas of idolatry to the fragility of the human psyche, from fan worship to stalker extremes and everything inbetween. True Fiction is also, at its core, somewhat of a home invasion movie, if the attacker and victim both invited themselves over for tea! Because everyone involved in what becomes a very bloody tale is at the remote cabin by choice – there’s no force, no duress; this is two consenting adults getting up to some weird psychological experiments.

Though when I say there’s no force and no duress there isn’t… not at first. However things escalate and the situation gets out of control and boundaries are blurred – as is Avery’s reality to some extent. It’s at this point that True Fiction changes gears and we get the violence and blood shed typically associated with home invasion-style movies. Violence and blood shed that certainly won’t disappoint genre fans. It’s also nice to see a woman hold her own in a genre film – and whilst you can’t really call Avery the typical “final girl”, what she is becomes clear as the film closes.

That denouement, which ties into the title of the film perfectly, reveals the films true message: the shocking state of modern society and the hunger for fame by ANY means, including infamy!

*** 3.5/5

True Fiction screened on Saturday 24th August as part of Arrow Video Frightfest 2019.


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