I live about 90 minutes outside Delphi, Indiana, a picturesque historic Indiana town more known for smalltown festivals and a friendly vibe than for anything on the darker side of life. At least that was true until February 13, 2017 when 12-year-old friends Abby Williams and Liberty German were killed while out hiking near the Monon High Bridge Trail.
Five years later, a memorial park honors their lives in Delphi but this has never translated into actual justice in the case.
I thought of Abby and Liberty often while watching writer/director Clayton Scott's indie crime drama/thriller Below the Fold, a film that sets itself in Skidmore, Missouri, a town itself with more than a bit of notoriety after the 1981 murder of town bully Ken Rex McElroy that was committed in front of an estimated 60 witnesses.
Yet again, the case has never been solved.
In Below the Fold, smalltown reporter David Fremont (Davis DeRock) is assigned by his editor to cover the 10th anniversary of the unsolved disappearance of 12-year-old Susie Potter, who ran outside her home to retrieve a Bible from the car and was never seen again.
Shot in Missouri, Below the Fold is a familiar but engaging crime drama immersed in the world of investigative journalism. David is joined by Sarah McGuire's Lisa, a newbie at the newspaper who also seems to have a bit of a history with David. This interpersonal drama, while a familiar narrative move, also complements the film's immersion in smalltown relationships and politics.
While Below the Fold may seem familiar, Scott wisely borrows from the best including some obviously heavy Fincher influences in terms of lensing and overall atmosphere. It fits nicely and I'm guessing a good majority of folks familiar with rural life will recognize a lot of the relationship dynamics that unfold here.
Below the Fold, a title that refers to the journalistic term for articles that run below the fold in a newspaer and are thus less seen, could just as easily refer to life below the fold of seemingly idyllic smalltown life. The film is rather lowkey in terms of thrills and chills, though it's steadfast with its drama and possessing of a mighty fine ensemble cast. Both DeRock and McGuire are tasked with carrying the majority of the narrative load and do so admirably, though the film soars on the strength of supporting turns by the likes of Rick Daniels as Jeff Darrach, Scott Lucas as Matthew Donovan, and Jamie Addison as Maggie Monroe among others.
Lensing by Iain Trimble is particularly effective in capturing both the beauty and underbelly of smalltown life. Ho Ling Tang's original music builds both suspense and intimacy.
While Below the Fold may not cover a whole lot of new ground, what it covers it does so engagingly and with uncommon insight into rural life and the secrets we don't talk about.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic