Rating: 4 out of 5.

Anyone that has fears of a movie like Roost glamorizing an old/young relationship can put those feelings to rest immediately. While it is not quite a coercive control drama akin to You Mean Everything to Me or Palm Trees and Powerlines, Roost is not exactly a straight romance, either. More of a twisty dramatic thriller, director Amy Redford and writer Scott Organ craft a powerful indie that adapts the stage play of the same name, also penned by Organ. See this one as blind as possible, because Roost is filled with shock and awe throughout.

Anna (Grace Van Dien, The Binge, Stranger Things 4) has been spending the majority of her nights over FaceTime with significantly-older online boyfriend Eric (Kyle Gallner, 2022’s Scream, Dinner in America) as they read Emily Dickinson together. Anna’s mother, Beth (Summer Phoenix, The Faculty, SLC Punk), has meanwhile become freshly engaged to her cop-boyfriend, Tim (Jesse Garcia, From Dusk Till Dawn, Ambulance). On the eve of Anna’s 17th birthday, Eric is eager to give her the best present of all—himself! The 28-year-old Eric shows up at her doorstep with a hardcover copy of Emily Dickinson poetry and a doe-eyed smile, but just what is he hiding?

Organ’s script keeps a swirling mystery element hidden, quietly unspooling shocking truths as Roost progresses towards a heartbreaking, effective finale. All three of the leads here are fantastic. Kyle Gallner taps into an entirely different side that I have yet to see from him before despite following his career now for over a decade. Grace Van Dien, an exciting young talent, and Summer Phoenix, a seasoned vet, make for an extremely believable mother/daughter unit. The interpersonal relationships and connectivity of the movie seem to comment on past traumas and cyclical karma.

Roost will certainly have a lot of people talking—an ending in particular that seems to twist the knife shook me to my core. Somehow, this is only Amy Redford’s second feature film, and her first in over a decade! I would love to see her tap more into this genre-bending playground that defies expectations and traditional romance, thriller, or drama tropes. Tapping into the raw energy of her star performers, Redford exposes a complex perspective through a clinical, subjective modern lens. The sins of the past will come home to roost in this explosive, surprising thriller.

Roost screened at 2022’s Toronto International Film Festival.

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