Farewell (2020) is a narrative film playing at the Bentonville Film Festival. What starts off as a small gathering between old friends turns into an expedition into horror. Written and directed by Chris Chalke, this tension filled film explores gender roles and the power dynamics between relationships as well as the intimacy between couples versus friends. Part slasher film, part suspense, Farewell examines the secrets that bind close relationships, but also the insecurities that tear them apart.
Chalke does an excellent job of setting up tension. Buttons are pressed throughout the beginning of this film for every character, so there is always this pressure surrounding every scene. Any piece of dialogue can be used to start a fight. There is a bit of a muddle as tensions are quickly and easily diffused, but this works as it shows the fickleness of the emotions. The characters have come together to celebrate Chance and Grace’s anniversary before they leave the country for a career opportunity. While the setup is both joyful and wistful as the friends gather together, there is an underlying current of dread as this group comes together.
In the midst of personal demons and stunning displays of toxic masculinity, a sinister presence makes its way into the plot. The set up for this is artfully done. Daniel Clive McCallum composes the score, an eerie tune of strings that follows the film as it descends to a new level of emotion. The remote setting also contributes to the atmosphere and the overall anxiety of the characters. The combination of music and the acting amps up the suspense and sets up the uneasy sense of foreboding.
There are some truly great performances in this film. Chris Chalke, not only writes and directs but stars as Chance opposite K.D. Chalk’s character Grace. Chance and Grace are the reason for the gathering and sort of the glue of the friendship circle. Their arrival mixes with the host couple Mila and Remy played by Cesa Pledger and Eden Marryshow. The dynamic between these two couples is interesting and adds a unique chemistry to the film.
At the heart of it, Farewell is a horror movie with some pretty inventive death scenes and scares.