Clocking in at fifty-five minutes, this brief feature has the feel of an episode of an anthology TV series. It falls into that category of curse story whereby a relative innocent suffers thanks to the sins of his father, coming to understand his heritage of rottenness as he undergoes a hideous body horror transformation. Scott Willis (Jim Thalman) has never understood why his mother suddenly dumped him on relatives in Baltimore and became a recluse – and is blurry about the circumstances of his father’s abandonment of the family. He moves his wife (Kristin Muri) and daughter (Quincy Saadeh) to the family home after his mother’s death, resolving to settle into peaceful living in a relatively new community his father helped build – at the expense of a forest that got cleared to make way for the town, and a Native American tribe whose protests against this were ignored. On his first night in the house, he gets a splinter in his foot, which stubbornly refuses to be extracted – and as he has visions of news footage of protesting Indians and industrial-scale logging, his wound festers and the scars that spread up from his foot start to look like bark. It’s clear from the outset where this is going, but director Tom Ryan – who also co-wrote with Todd Staruch – gives Thalman space to play complicated emotions even as the curse takes hold.
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