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Movie Reviews

[SXSW ’22] ‘The Cow’ review: Inventive story that embraces old tropes

New kind of horror moo-vie hits SXSW.

Suspenseful stories about cabins in the woods are nothing new to the horror genre. Just because it’s a common trop does not make it less of a perfect setting for mysterious happenings. Making its world premiere at South by Southwest, The Cow is a unique story of a woman whose boyfriend disappears into the woods with a stranger, but the circumstances of modern dating do not make this a cause for alarm. Winona Ryder stars alongside Dermot Mulroney in this genre bending film by Eli Horowitz. 

Kath (Ryder) and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr) arrive at a remote cabin for a weekend getaway. Upon arrival, they notice the cabin is already inhabited by a young brooding couple, Al (Owen Teague) and Greta (Brianne Tju). After an awkward conversation it is decided they will all share the cabin for the night.  Max and Greta become overly flirtatious so Kath is annoyed and goes to bed. She wakes to the news that Max and Greta ran away together, or at least, that is what she’s been led to believe. With the help of Dermot Mulroney, the cabin’s owner, a new story begins to take place. 

The Cow features some great directing with excellent shots of country roads and tree lines. The film has a light hearted tone, but there is an underlying sense of foreboding that begins with still images at the start of the film while haunting music plays over. Ryder gives a great performance that is both charming and comedic. There is an interesting blend of tones. The film is a mix of horror, sci-fi, and Hallmark movie. Ryder and Mulroney chemistry and story can easily blend into the multiple genres presented.

Tju is also fantastic in this film. The role of Greta is a distorted take on the free spirited fun loving youthful nymph character and Teague is chilling in his role as Al. Together, both Tju and Teague deliver a wonderfully unsettling performance. Rife with suspense and clever dialogue, The Cow is an intriguing ride that is skilled at hiding its destination.

The Cow as it makes its world premiere at SXSW on March 13

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