I feel like sometimes when I watch movies and review them for this site, I’m too hard them. Maybe I’m expecting too much from these smaller, independent movies, or maybe a lot of them I don’t fully understand. For Go North, I really wanted to have as open of a mind as possible and really experience this film. Never mind that Bub is silently judging me and threatening me with physical and emotional pain if I trash this movie, I really wanted to like it. You know what? I did.
I love movies filmed in my home state of Michigan. It’s like a Where’s Waldo guessing game for me. It is fun to see sights I’m familiar with and play a game my girlfriend has come to call “Ooh, I’ve Been Drunk There”. Movies like Transformers, Real Steel, Batman v Superman, to even last year’s incredible Don’t Breathe, really mean something to me. I love my home state and I love the city of Detroit, so to see them on film and show the world we exist too and can be a part of Hollywood, it just fills my cold heart.
Go North tells the story of two teenagers growing up in a post-apocalyptic (wait, there’s more), and their desire to rebel and break from the rules from their makeshift society. The twist is that their society is more like Lord of the Flies than The Walking Dead. There are no adults. None. What happened? Meh! What happens to the kids that get older? Meh! None of that is really the point. The story stays focused on these two kids, Josh and Jessie, and their madcap adventure through their dangerous world.
Ok, maybe it’s not so much madcap, as it is poetic. Director Matthew Ogens beautifully films his young cast and makes you relate to them, so you understand their journey. His slow, patient shots let you really breathe in the drab and hopelessness of the world. When we’re young, we think we can do it all, but there are those adults to pick up the slack and help us as we find our way. Josh and Jessie don’t have that, so they are really experiencing life for the first time.
Tension is added from antagonist Caleb, played by Patrick Schwarzenegger. Yup, the son of The Terminator. Lil Terminator leads a team of jocks, who keep the society in check with their rules and force. When Josh and Jessie leave, Caleb must hunt them down to TERMINATE THEM!! Not really, since Jessie is Caleb’s sister, but you get the idea.
The film is slow and methodical in the telling of it’s story, which can become tedious. Not a lot happens to break up the pace, which begins to make your mind wander a little bit. The acting from many of actors is also fairly questionable. They do show signs of brilliance and real heart, but for the most part, they come off kind of wooden and almost CW show levels. This young cast does show a major upside however, especially Sophie Kennedy Clark (Jessie).
Running in just under 90 minutes before credits, Go North is a well-directed, coming of age tale that takes the post apocalypse genre in a more subtle, realistic direction. While the slow pace may dissuade some viewers, I urge you to see what this up and coming director can do, he has some real talent.
***On a side note, shout out to the costume department on this movie. They did an excellent job designing the costumes and finding authentic varsity jackets for the jocks to wear. Saw my old High School there, and that was pretty cool.