Written by: Matt Patti | April 11th, 2022
Reed’s Point (Dale Fabrigar, 2022) 1½ out of 4 stars.
Growing up in eastern Pennsylvania and often traveling to New Jersey to visit family and friends, I became quite familiar with the legend of the Jersey Devil. The Jersey Devil is a creature said to roam the Pine Barrens Forest of southern New Jersey, destroying crops, killing animals, and terrorizing humans who cross its path. The residents of the state seem to fully embrace it, with many believing the creature to be real. Fascinated by the mystery, myself, I was quite excited when I learned of director Dale Fabrigar’s Reed’s Point, an upcoming film about the Jersey Devil. Unfortunately, while the movie provides some intriguing insight into the urban legend and a compelling plot wrapped around it, the atrocious performance by the film’s main star and a head-scratching third act ultimately seal the film’s disastrous fate.
Reed’s Point begins with a flashback, as three high-school seniors embark on an RV trip with their father. Sarah (Sasha Anne), her cousin Kelsey (Madison Ekstrand), and Kelsey’s boyfriend Alex (Evan Adams) are all about to graduate and are a bit nervous about the next chapter of their lives. Their father Greg (Clint Carmichael) seems to have little sympathy and is mainly focused on going to meet a client on Long Island after dropping the kids off. However, the RV crashes somewhere in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, killing Greg, along with the bus driver. Sarah and Alex survive, but Kelsey goes missing, and Sarah swears she saw a creature pull Kelsey into the forest that night.
One year later, Sarah is in college and still holds onto this sentiment, believing Kelsey is still alive. On the anniversary of the RV crash, Sarah and Alex venture out to the crash site in search of their friend, or at least to find closure. Locals warn them of Jersey Devil sightings in the area, but the two push on, nevertheless. Can Sarah and Alex get the answers they’re looking for, and more importantly, can they survive the Pine Barrens with the lurking threat of the Jersey Devil?
When reading up on this film before viewing, I discovered that the lead actress who plays Sarah, Sasha Anne, is actually an influencer. She runs a YouTube channel featuring makeup tutorials, song covers, and some original songs of hers. I thought it was an interesting choice to feature her as the main character of Reed’s Point, though I had some fears about her acting capabilities. Sadly, my fears were realized and then some, as Anne’s performance considerably weighs down the film.
Dull line delivery bores the viewer and hurts their investment in the plot. Anne is also unable to convey any emotion at all, not only in her dialogue, but also in her expressions. Sadness, fear, relief, despair… these are all emotions that her character should feel throughout the story. Yet, due to Anne’s inability to express any emotion, her character of Sarah never seems to feel anything at all. It is a shame, because the performances of the supporting cast around her are actually quite good, but they are all negatively affected by Anne’s lackluster performance. A great tactic to perhaps garner interest in the film through Anne’s social-media followers, it nevertheless does not work out at all as Anne has no business starring in a leading role.
Outside of Anne’s performance, Reed’s Point does succeed when it comes to honoring the legend of the Jersey Devil. It delves into the creature’s origin story and presents some thought-provoking information that I did not know before. Whether it’s based in reality or conjured up for the film, it is nonetheless compelling. There are some quality moments of suspense throughout, and an uneasy feeling accomplished by our characters never quite knowing whom to trust and what is real. Near the beginning of the third act, there is a very clever, if predictable, reveal that further intrigues. Unfortunately, the otherwise gripping plot all comes crashing down in the last twenty minutes of the film. A hodgepodge of elements that don’t mix well are strewn together and an overabundance of unnecessary twists and turns are presented in a very peculiar ending that brings a swift end to any hopes of the film’s plot making up for Anne’s terrible performance.
In the end, Reed’s Point has its bright spots, mostly in the second act of the film. The mystery captivates at points, and the characters around Sarah are all compelling. Unfortunately, when a film’s central character is not interesting at all and suffers from the worst performance, there’s not much else the supporting cast can do to cover up the weakest link. I would likely be giving Reed’s Point a positive review if not for Anne’s shortcomings, even with the film’s questionable conclusion. It is rare that a single element ruins an entire film for me, but in this case it undoubtedly does.