The Ones You Didn’t Burn is an awkward thriller making its world premiere at the Chattanooga Film Festival. The movie is about two siblings who return to the family farm to sell it after the death of their father. They are soon forced to face the past. There are no shortage of strange conversations and characters. The most odd may be Greg (Samuel Dunning). His initial encounter with Nathan (Nathan Wallace) is to tell Greg how it “sucks” his dad has just died before quickly moving on to get a date with his sister Mirra (Jenna Sander). Keep in mind, this is the first time they have seen each other in years.
(In all fairness, the whole scene may also be an attempt to show how socially incompetent the character is. He also uses slurs directed towards homosexuals and lives in his mother’s basement.)
From when the audience first sees the two of them together, Nathan and Mirra have an odd sexual chemistry. The Ones You Did Not Burn is not telling that type of story, however; it is simply found in the performances – especially Sander’s. The story takes a while to get going, but this also allows the opportunity to explore the characters. Both siblings see a change, but Mirra’s is more interesting. It is subtle at first; then the machinations of The Ones You Didn’t Burn take over. She is the most effective at pulling audiences into the muddled plot.
It is unfortunate that the mystery is not given more time. The One You Didn’t Burn runs about 70 minutes, with at least of the time being used to develop its characters. Eventually, the script gets around to dealing with the circumstances surrounding the farm, but it all feels rushed. Things get better as more is revealed, but it will leave much of the audience with an empty feeling.
Tickets for the Chattanooga Film Festival are available HERE
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