Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Postmortem meditation drives ‘Dry Creek’

The inescapable concept of death both suffocates and drives the first installation of Evan Cartwright and Ben Kegan’s web series ‘Dry Creek.’ Affectingly silent and cinematographically precise, the web series revolves around the recent death of Charlie (Kevin Moore) and Grace Barrow’s (Eliza Young) father. The first episode individually captures how each sibling copes with the father’s death upon returning home from their father’s funeral.

The opening scene in ‘Dry Creek’ represents a tragic event that is as frightening as it is familiar (at least to those of us who live in sport hunting societies). A man walks out to the middle of a field on a windy day. In a parallel – but not separate – narrative, a man takes a swig of beer while holding a shotgun and riding in the bed of a pickup. The scene immediately looses its innocence (if it ever had any) as soon as the latter man chucks his empty beer can into a heap of animal skeletons. In a matter of seconds, the shotgun is loaded, another beer can is launched – this time as a clay pigeon – and a shot is heard.

Death, personified by a flying beer can, could not be more ignorant.

Charlie and Grace, we soon find out, are very different people. Charlie’s nostalgic turn upon entering the house is, perhaps, best embodied by the toy cowboy and Indian. He makes the cowboy shoot the Indian (with sound effects and all) in an attempt to reason his father’s death. Conversely, Grace feels suffocated by the house and needs to find an excuse to leave. A little grocery run suffices, and Grace takes off.

The grocery run, however, reminds Grace of her past. She unexpectedly bumps into Dan (Finn Straley), revealing that it has been ten years since she they last saw each other – and, likely, since she last was in town. Grace and Dan exchange histories: Dan is married to Karen and they have a young boy; Grace is an editor (of something) in New York and will only be back in town for a week. The awkward final exchanges suggest more that merely a friendship between Grace and Dan. Karen, Dan’s wife, picks up on this and insists that they leave.

Back at the house, Charlie still rummages through his dad’s paraphernalia. He groups the glasses, the cowboy hat, and pictures to form part of a collage of memories on a bed before the first episode comes to an end.

The story, which leans toward – but does not – meet cliché status, is captured by some excellent cinematography. The shots of the truck, the silent scenes with Charlie, and the several seamless swivels highlight Cartwright and Kegan’s excellent camera direction. As with Kegan’s previous work, ‘Team Taliban,’ each scene is deliberately iconic. There are few, if any, meaningless seconds in the 6 and a half minute episode. Though many of my fellow movie-goers may not tolerate this, I would have liked to have seen longer, more patient camera work. More silence (though I very much appreciated that the first word wasn’t spoken until almost 4 minutes into the episode). More long face shots. Maybe flashbacks? Understandably, however, Cartwright and Kegan’s purpose is a web series and not a movie.

The acting, with the exception of a few hiccups, paralleled the cinematography. Charlie’s silence is palpable – and gripping. Grace is cramped by more than just the house’s four walls. Dan and Karen stay honest, believable and real. The final scene, not your traditional cliffhanger, defied any soap-opera ending. It sustained the already anxious tone, appropriately pervasive throughout the episode.

Out-sexing ‘Gray’s Anatomy,’ out-dramatizing ‘Six Feet Under,’ Cartwright and Kegan’s ‘Dry Creek’ is definitely the series to watch (at least for the next few days).

Reel Score: 8 (out of 10)

The web series ‘Dry Creek,’ written, directed and edited by Evan Cartwright and Ben Kegan, will release a new episode every night at 8 p.m. (www.drycreekseries.com) this week.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *