Blow the Man Down
Secret Engine, 2019
Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
📷 : Licensed from Shutterstock
Movies and TV shows in cold weather and blizzard conditions
The beauty of indie films is their ability to step out of traditional characters and settings to tell a less often heard story. (Winter’s Bone comes to mind.) In doing so, they often transform the setting into an additional character of the film. The way conflict plays out in these stories can be far different than the average screenplay, leading to interesting decisions and actions from the main characters that we would not otherwise see. Whereas typical Hollywood tales show everything eventually coming to light, stories set in small or rural towns show us that some skeletons stay in the closet for good. Such is the case in the coastal thriller Blow the Man Down.
Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy co-direct this indie project set in the small town of Easter Cove, Maine. Revolving around two young girls who cover up a murder committed in self-defense, Blow the Man Down highlights characters that often do not appear in prominent roles of Hollywood stories. Just a few of these characters include the town matriarchs (June Squibb, Marceline Hugot, Annette O’Toole), a brothel owner searching for stolen cash (Margo Martindale), and a pair of sisters (Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor) struggling to sort out the financial responsibilities left behind by their deceased mother.
The film’s appeal comes from its willingness to take us away from the standard metropolitan setting into a small, coastal, blue-collar town. It incorporates small town life into the story in many creative ways; fisherman singing standards, town gossip, even a cardboard sign falling on a car. Additionally, despite efforts to highlight gender inequality in the entertainment industry, it is still very rare to see a female director duo along with a predominantly female cast. Not only does the film pull this off, it highlights women of various age groups in a blue-collar setting, whose perspectives are often underrepresented.
Blow the Man Down’s character mix generates much natural conflict, not just by the difference in individual perspectives but also ways of life. The town matriarchs clash with the brothel owner and her sex worker. The young ambitious cop attempting to solve the case clashes with the older, apathetic cop who succumbs to the town code. And Mary Beth, the adventurous stubborn sibling who despises Easter Cove, clashes with her loyal, obedient, wholesome sister Priscilla.
The film does however possess one glaring shortcoming; it incorporates its minor characters at the expense of making Mary Beth and Priscilla more proactive. Integrating the town matriarchs, brothel owner and police officers (Skipp Sudduth, Will Brittain) into the story, slowly turns our protagonists into bystanders. By the latter half of the movie, the sisters push the story forward much less than the supporting cast. Thus, they are not put in desperate situations where they must make character-revealing decisions.
Stephen King’s influence on the Cole/Krudy writer-director duo is quite apparent, even beyond the Maine setting. The style of this indie thriller is reminiscent of classics like Misery and Stand by Me, both King adaptations. The additional story element of the missing cash might take you back to non-King thrillers such as No Country for Old Men, Blue Velvet, or the aforementioned Winter’s Bone. Each movie involves cover-ups, secrets and characters determined to get to the bottom of a mystery, even imploring violence to do so. Blow the Man Down provides a departure from metropolitan landscapes and urban ways of life and gives a glimpse into how matters are handled in a setting we do not see as frequently on the big screen.