Ever wonder what life is like for a teenager in Barrow, Alaska? As it turns out, it’s a lot like being a teenager in any small American town, with the exception of seal hunting on the weekends and snowmobiling to your friend’s house. But one thing Barrow has that most small towns don’t is an endless, unpopulated expanse of ice-covered ocean to hide a body.
Read on for the review.
- Writer/Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
Three teenage boys in Barrow, Alaska set out on a seal hunting trip. A scuffle erupts into a full-on fight in which one of the boys is stabbed in the neck accidentally. The other two, afraid to confess and lose everything they have going for them, dump the body into the icy water and head home. Claiming the boy had accidentally driven into a hole on the ice, the town’s search and rescue team (lead by one of the boys’ fathers) heads out to investigate. After struggling with their consciences and nearly losing their friendship, the boys finally decide they need to tell the truth– or at least part of it.
- The story has suspense, a good pace, and a surprising ending that is very satisfying. This film has some very visually stunning shots of the snowy tundra. The acting is strong by the lead characters, who convincingly show us a version of Iñupiaq life that involves drugs, hip hop, and teen pregnancy; things people in the lower 48 tend not to associate with small towns in the Alaskan Arctic. It also manages to give a sense of the local customs and culture that continue to be passed down, and how those value contrast with American youth culture.
- Some of the supporting roles struggled a bit with dialogue and the story turned very melodramatic toward the end. I also think the premise of teenagers covering up an accidental death has been done before, which is fine, but I was looking for this film to subvert the common narrative a little and make the idea new, which it just didn’t do.
I enjoyed this film and have always been fascinated with Barrow, so this very real look at life there, beyond the plot, was fascinating and visceral. The story itself was a little uninventive, but well executed.
Watch Christie’s video review now….