Horror Movie Review: Occurrence at Mills Creek (2020)

A young woman haunted by the death of her sister finds her reality eroding as she is plagued by a darkness hidden in her family’s past.

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Written and directed by Don Swanson, Occurrence at Mills Creek is a psychological horror that requires patience to fully enjoy. At times it feels more like an art project, at times more like a music video and at other times, like you’re part of some sort of fever dream. It is not always easy to keep up with what is actually occurring here.

However, as plot points begin to fall into place and the overall story begins to untangle, Occurrence at Mills Creek proves itself to be a satisfying watch. Albeit a flawed one.

The story surrounds the young woman Clara (Ava Psoras) who is struggling to deal with the grief of a number of recent family tragedies. Her grief is portrayed through supernatural instances and visions that all seem to be linked to a family curse. The story deals with heavy subject matters like depression, suicide and the aforementioned grief surrounding the death of loved ones.

It’s those elements that Occurrence at Mills Creek gets right and a strong performance from Ava Psoras (among others) sells a lot of it. Where the movie fails to spark though is with the horror elements. Moments that feel forced in and disconnected from the rest of the film. The family curse side of things come as a surprise as up to that point this really didn’t feel like a horror, even a psychological horror. It needed something more significant even if the overall narrative is still interesting to watch.

It’s a slow burn of a film, perhaps occasionally to its detriment, as some parts feel slow. However, those parts are forgivable as Occurrence at Mills Creek nails the aspect of music working as a storytelling device. The score created by Mark D’Errico and utilising songs by Mia Z, these moments are fraught with emotion and really gets across the issues Clara faces. The scene where Clara walks down the aisle at her sister’s funeral is a particular strong point in the movie.

Unfortunately, what isn’t so strong is the sound elsewhere. Echoing dialogue, background noise and low character voices make it hard to concentrate at times. A real problem when this is a film that requires your full attention.

Regardless, Occurrence at Mills Creek is a recommend simply because of how it handles its subject matter and the direction it takes that stuff. It’s got some captivating moments and leaves you pondering come the credits.




Occurrence at Mills Creek
  • The Final Score - 6/10
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