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Kaaterskill Falls
Kaaterskill Falls
Actors: Hilary Howard, Anthony Leslie, Mitchell Riggs
Directors: Peter Olsen, Josh Apter
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2003     1hr 26min

commentary, 5.1, deleted scenes/bloopers, originial trailer, photogallery


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Movie Details

Actors: Hilary Howard, Anthony Leslie, Mitchell Riggs
Directors: Peter Olsen, Josh Apter
Creators: Hilary Howard, Anthony Leslie, Mitchell Riggs, Peter Olsen, Josh Apter
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 09/09/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 10/17/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)

""Kaaterskill Falls," at first glance, looked right up my alley as far as movies go: a young couple picks up a mysterious hitchhiker and soon discovers that the presence of this guy brings out psychological issues lingering just beneath the surface. In my world of cinematic adventures, such a psychologically driven film would result in a high body count and gallons of body sauce painting the walls and ceilings. First time directors Josh Apter and Peter Olsen decided to take a different tack with this shoestring budget indie film by foregoing bloodshed in favor of intensive dialogue and a slowly rising level of tension. According to the movie description, "Kaaterskill Falls" won a Critics Award at a Los Angeles film festival. Well, we all know critics are strange little critters who often do odd things. While I won't say "Kaaterskill Falls" is a total loss, Apter and Olsen's film left me yearning for something more substantial than what the picture delivered.Here's the story: a young couple cruising around in a green Volkswagen Bug with a daisy on the dashboard pick up a scruffy looking hitchhiker named Lyle. The couple, named Ren and Mitchell, is a bit out of place in the Catskill region in New York. For one thing, the two are definitely techie types who cannot thrive for long without all of the opulent comforts of society. Mitchell, for example, carries his cell phone everywhere. Ren and Mitchell's urban orientation will eventually rub Lyle the wrong way, although Ren initially seems more sympathetic to the hitchhiker's ecologically minded viewpoints than does her husband. The fact that Lyle appears to pay close attention to Ren further alienates Mitchell. The hitchhiker wouldn't even present a problem if the couple didn't take him into their vacation cottage after Lyle failed to procure lodgings at the same resort spot. Like any pair of city bubbleheads who think all rural people are so "aw shucks" cute and harmless, Ren and Mitchell proceed to make Lyle feel at home. What follows is a frequently excruciating hour or so of endless dialogue about fireplaces, cooking, the aesthetics of cell phone towers, and the environment. Throw in a bottle of liquor and a glacially slow level of increasing anxiety between the three, and you have the basic outline of "Kaaterskill Falls."To be fair, "Kaaterskill Falls" does deliver a few interesting things. Once the three go hiking in the Catskills, the story does measurably increase in the tension department. The scenery the three characters move through on their nature trek is simply stunning, with the rocks, waterfalls, and panoramic views dominating this segment of the film. And no matter how much you look for it, you will NEVER see the end of this film coming. It is a total shocker even if it doesn't make that much sense. Moreover, I enjoyed the soundtrack to the film, as well as the extremely unique editing techniques employed by the directors, a method that irritated at first until you got used to it and realized that it was an inventive way to convey the psychological distances between the characters. In fact, I think this is my primary problem with this movie: from beginning to end, I never felt as though I got a handle on what went on between these three people. I sensed things just under the surface of what I watched, but I couldn't frame what I saw into a coherent explanation. Sure, there's something going on about the gulf between rural and urban people, but I haven't been this dumbfounded over a picture since I watched "Barton Fink." A further difficulty I had with "Kaaterskill Falls" centered on the three actors chosen to play Ren, Mitchell, and Lyle. Frankly, I didn't like any of them. Ren whined too often, Mitchell had all the allure of fingernails grinding away on a chalkboard, and Lyle offended every human sensory perception. The biggest Lyle problem? The actor who played him delivered every line as though he was an ancient college professor reading his lecture off of note cards. Ben Stein has nothing on this guy, as Lyle's monotone delivery drones on and on. Needless to say, I cheered as this film ended.The DVD does a great job even if the movie suffers from mediocrity. The transfer is superb. Extras on the disc include several blooper outtakes, a commentary track, a trailer, and stills. You even get some factoids about the movie, where you learn that there was no script for the movie (something I wouldn't want to brag about, really) and how the three actors in the film got the job because they accepted the challenge of filming a movie in just a few days time (it took longer, of course). Overall, I recommend people use a "Get Out of Jail Free" card on this one. Why spend an agonizing hour for such little payoff?"
Great premise, great beginning, great development...and then
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 04/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Here's a low budget indie shot in upstate New York with no actual written script, similar (from that angle) to Blair Witch Project, but significantly more intelligent than BWP. The premise is fine, hardly original, but a strong plot device--couple picks up hitchhiker. The beginning of the film is also strong; we see the couple and how they relate to each other and then catch a brief glimpse of the hitchhiker. The development is also really well done--that is, the movement of the characters in their shared situation after introducing them at the beginning.

The ending is a huge letdown.

Let's focus on the development--without revealing anything that would constitute a spoiler. The couple, Mitchell and Ren, are on their way up from NY City to the Catskills to get away from things. They pick up a burly hitchhiker, Lyle, who's quiet and drop him off soon enough at a motel, which he requested they do. Then he shows up again; supposedly the motel is full up. Is it really? We don't really know. They take him in.

What makes the development so strong is that the writer-directors do know something about the psychological subtleties of behavior and they do a great job displaying them as we move from the beginning through the denouement of the film. The interplay between Mitchell, Ren, and Lyle is very skillfully handled, which is what makes the first three quarters of this film so good--really good, in fact.

It would be a misconception to think that this is a typical "third person threatens couple" as in Dead Calm or Knife in the Water (Polanski) or a bunch of other films. This is, in some ways, much subtler than that, and that's what makes it all the more disappointing when a shocking ending occurs that is much too jarring to be credible and to mesh with the first three quarters of the film. This is really too bad, because I was really hooked up until then and when this climactic event happens, my rapture dribbled away into mush.

Cynics might say that the ending was done because the filmmakers were running out of money and/or film stock, or even patience with the entire project. It's possible to understand the origin of the ending shocker--i.e., why it happens--but the viewer really has to be able to make forced connections to buy into it and those connections should not be forced, but instead be natural. The only way the connections could have been natural is if the characters--especially one in particular--was revealed much more to have a mean streak, and that specific aspect of the character's personality is not developed anywhere near enough to make the ending believable. Hence the complete non-credibility.

The cinematography is excellent, the setting is truly beautiful--the title location in particular--and the actors are competent enough, as is the script. Until the completely out of whack ending.

I would look forward to other work from the same filmmakers; my guess is that their next effort will be stronger and more consistent."
HeidiKakes | NY | 07/19/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"They kept showing this movie on the Sundance Channel so I decided to watch it late one night. This movie is the biggest heap of crap I have ever seen. Extremely bad acting, absolutely no plot and features some of the most boring, drawn out scenes ever filmed with even worse dialogue. While a movie like Elephant features the same things, eventually all the parts of the puzzle come together in one dramatic resolution. Kaaterskill Falls leaves viewers empty and befuddled by what has just taken place on screen--thats if the viewer hasn't changed the channel or fallen asleep by then, which 99% most likely will. The only redeeming quality of this film is the cinematography and on-site location."
A film that made me think
Born to Read | Metro New York area | 12/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Kaaterskill Falls" proclaims itself to be low budget from moment the `Low Fi' logo appears on the screen, and it doesn't take long to realize that this film was made on a shoestring by Hollywood standards. Yet, despite this - or maybe even because of this - there's an intimacy in this film that drew me in and made me feel like a voyeur. When we meet Ren and Mitch, a sophisticated New York couple driving somewhere in rural Upper New York state in the early spring (the grass is green but the trees are leafless), we are sitting in the back seat of their car struggling to eavesdrop on their plans for the weekend (we later learn that they are "trying to make a baby"). Picking up the hitchhiker, Lyle, doesn't seem like a smart thing to do, especially when he turns out to be rather truculent. But when Ren and Mitch invite him to stay in their rented cottage, I found myself shouting "Don't do it!"

We are present at an improvised dinner that evening with Lyle, Ren, and Mitch. The presumably unscripted conversation meanders in several not very significant directions. Lyle's big complaint is about the incursion of cell phone towers in his beloved woods; perhaps by extension he laments also the incursion of the cell-phone-bearing city boy, Mitch. As the evening wears on, stereotypes are broken: the rural Lyle is savvy in the kitchen with Pasta Puttanesca, but fails miserably at making a fire, which the gentrified ex-boy scout, Mitch, gloatingly teaches him to do. Beyond the words, however, can be sensed the growing attraction between Ren and Lyle, an attraction not lost on Mitch.

Surely it cannot have been a case of sloppy movie-making that the next day, when Lyle agrees to lead the couple on a hike to Kaaterskill Falls, the formerly-barren trees are in full leaf? Can their lush green canopy be a proxy for the unfolding passions of the three characters, long curled up inside tight buds within them? Symbolic or not, something base and primitive suddenly commandeers the characters' instincts and commands their actions with shocking results. Or was it all a dream? Whatever it was, this film stayed with me and kept me pondering for the next twenty-four hours. And I like a film that makes me think.