30 Miles from Nowhere
According to horror movie logic, there are a number of reasons why a group of presumably intelligent people would head out into the woods, voluntarily. 30 Miles from Nowhere, as the title suggests, is another one of those isolated cabin-in-the-woods films that shows us why this seclusion is almost always a terrible idea.
Trying its best to mash up The Big Chill with April Fool’s Day, 30 Miles from Nowhere draws a group old friends together to mourn the passing of one of their own. The now-widowed Sylvia (Carrie Preston from True Blood) has asked her friends to gather in a remote home to say their goodbyes and reconnect with each other. Over the course of these days, in the land of no cell service, the group bond once again and the alcohol flows liberally, but strange occurrences keep interrupting their attempts to relax and pay their respects.
A bit of humor gets mixed in with all the chaos at this spooky retreat. For some reason, all of the hints at the strange things afoot are launched at the younger girlfriend, Amber (Marielle Scott), who tags along and meets the group for the first time. This poor, exasperated girl must not only put up with the scrutiny of the old gang, but also deal with being targeted by some unknown force trying to ruin their weekend.
Though the film does eventually dive into some very specific sources for the scares, they feel so random in the beginning that the movie comes across as lacking a cohesive central idea. From rabid stray dogs surrounding the property to the shower randomly spewing blood rather than water, it’s hard to pin down exactly what these characters are supposed to be afraid of.
30 Miles from Nowhere tends to suffer from issues common in tiny-budgeted horror films. The acting is serviceable, but none of the characters are given much to do beyond driving the plot forward. The histories of the various players are explained, but none are meaty enough to develop any real emotional connections. Later, the plot is a bit overdeveloped and chooses to focus more on telling us what had been going on, rather than showing us how scary that was.
Fortunately, not all is lost. Those visual scares, though unorganized, are effective. And Preston calls for attention with every moment she’s in the frame, as both the most interesting character and the strongest performance. The overall idea behind the film is a good one too, but it seems to trip over itself in the execution.
30 Miles from Nowhere is available for rental or purchase at most major streaming providers.