The mainstream film industry seems obsessed with re-visiting the past and almost incapable of trying something new. Something a bit different. Endless sequels and remakes. Re-hashes of the same old plot. The same worn out formula. Studios are allergic to risk. Unwilling to back a strong new voice for fear of losing money. Audiences, sheltered from originality, have lapsed into craving the familiar. Thankfully, there are film-makers out there who are bold enough to follow their own voice. Jennifer Reeder definitely falls into that category as her new film Knives and Skin attests.

In the quiet mid-western town of Middle River something strange is brewing. After going to the lake with her high school jock boyfriend (Ty Olwin), Carolyn (Raven Whitley) is abandoned. She subsequently disappears. Whilst her traumatised mother (Marika Engelhardt) stalks the neighbourhood searching for answers, her classmates and friends deal with the grief and anxiety in their own ways. Jolted by their own mortality.

Knives and Skin is a staggeringly original take on inter-generational malaise and teenage angst. Middle River plays host to small town neuroses. The intimacy of the community lends itself to buried secrets. One spark brings them flooding to the surface. Makes people re-assess their lives. Reeder ties each person to this one event whilst not letting Carolyn’s disappearance play centre stage. Knives and Skin is phenomenal filmmaking.

Knives and Skin screened at Fantasia Festival 2019.