There is certainly Something in the water at the West Baden Springs Hotel. The new film from director Paul Shoulberg, a supernatural thriller, So cold the river takes place in the small town of French Lick, Indiana, where magic water and a huge hotel attract people. With Bethany Joy Lenz (Dexter, One Tree Hill,) Katie Sarife (Annabelle comes home,) and Andrew J. West (The walking dead,) the film offers thrills of history to the setting.
“So Cold the River” is based on the book of the same name by Michael Koryta
Koryta, Indiana native and author So cold the river, weaves a supernatural mystery into the famous West Baden Hotel. In the novel, a disgraced filmmaker named Eric Shaw is tasked with creating a character profile on a man named Campbell Bradford. Campbell, evil as he is, murdered the original owner of the hotel in front of the man’s son because he refused to sell the hotel to Campbell. Campbell and the boy then disappeared, never to be seen again.
However, a woman named Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric with a large sum of money to figure out the details of her stepfather Campbell’s life. The only clue she gives Eric to work is a mysterious green bottle filled with the West Baden Hotel’s infamous Pluto Water. The twists keep the reader on their toes and create a perfect tale ripe for Hollywood magic.
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Bethany Joy Lenz serves as one of the film’s executive producers.
So cold the river stars Lenz as Erica Shaw (in place of the original Eric) and travels to create the same character profile in the book. Once there, she meets a man named Josiah Bradford, a relative of Campbell, played by West. The two flirt for a night at the casino, and Erica asks Josiah to take part in her movie, which he reluctantly accepts. All the while, Erica has been sipping from the mysterious bottle when no one is looking.
A handful of other characters spice up the film, including Sarife as Kellyn, a voracious fan from Erica’s early days on set, and Deanna Dunagan (Still waterlisten)) as Anne McKinney, the unofficial historian of West Baden. Lenz’s portrayal of Erica highlights the weirdness necessary for the narrative, but it’s the hotel that shines. The film’s setting adds an unsettling anxiety to the film with its huge atrium and mysterious healing water.
Movie version of ‘So Cold the River’ needed a little more to cross the finish line as a standout
While the book interweaves Campbell’s story from the past with Eric and current events, the film does not. Time constraints often prevent a film from creating an exact replica of the novel it is based on, and So cold the river is no different. While Lenz’s role plays Erica as dark and brooding, audiences are still unsure whether to root for or against her.
Globally, So cold the river makes excellent use of the West Baden setting. The constant dim lighting is enough to get right under the viewers skin. In addition, Lenz, West and Sarife turn in outstanding performances.
The finale left us wanting more details about Campbell, Erica, and the rest of the characters. Without enough puzzle pieces, it’s hard for the viewer to understand the big picture at the end. At the end, So cold the river leaves some of your insatiable thirst.
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