January 20, 2020
by Carla Hay
Directed by Michael Thomas Daniel
Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional rural town of Whiskey Flats, Oregon, “Get Gone” has a cast of American characters who are predominantly white, with a few characters who are African American and Asian.
Culture Clash: A low-budget slasher flick, “Get Gone” shows the conflicts that arise between a sinister backwoods family and anyone who dares to go to the remote area where the family lives.
Culture Audience: Even the most avid horror fans will have a hard time sitting through this poorly made film that isn’t very scary.
Ripping off more than a few ideas from the 1980 “Friday the 13th” film (the first film in the “Friday the 13th” series), the horror flick “Get Gone” is a chore and a bore to watch. And it has nothing to do with the movie’s obviously low budget, because there are plenty of low-budget films that have better-than-average direction and writing. (For example, Oren Peli’s first “Paranormal Activity” movie, which is still the best in the “Paranormal Activity” horror series, was reportedly made for only $15,000.) “Get Gone,” written and directed by Michael Thomas Daniel, looks like a student film that would barely get a passing grade at any top-notch film school. As bad as the movie is, it would be somewhat redeemable if the film could be in the “so bad it’s funny” category, but “Get Gone” has almost no sense of humor. Some of the acting is more painful to watch than the movie’s unrealistic murder scenes.
The “Get Gone” plot is pretty simple: An elderly couple—Don Maxwell (played by Robert Miano) and Mama Maxwell (played by Lin Shaye)—live with their adult sons in a secluded house in the backwoods of the fictional small town of Whiskey Flats, Oregon. And they’re mad as hell. The Maxwell parents have been living on the property for more than 30 years. But now, fracking companies have been drilling in the area, and the owner of the property wants the Maxwells to move.
The state of Oregon has also been battling with the Maxwells for years to leave the property, which is a state game refuge that prohibits hunting. The state claims that the Maxwells have been living on the property illegally, but the Maxwells obviously don’t agree. In the film’s opening scene, a fracking company official named Rico (played by Rico Anderson), has the unpleasant task of telling Don and Mama Maxwell that they’ve run out of time to stay on the property, and that it won’t be long before some men will come over to evict the Maxwells for good.
Meanwhile, there’s a viral video that has started an urban legend that visitors to the property have been disappearing and have probably been killed. (You know where this is headed.) It isn’t long before Hoax Busters, a group whose specialty is debunking urban legends, have traveled from out of town and gathered in the area’s local saloon. The five Hoax Busters people at the saloon are a boss in his 40s named Grant (played by Bradley Stryker) and four of his underlings who are in their 20s: nervous Abbey (played by Emily Shenaut), sassy Connie (played by Caitlin Stryker), wisecracking Kyle (played by Cory Crouser) and arrogant Scott (played by Luke B. Carlson).
They’re all are going to the woods for a “team-building trip” for a few days, but they’re really there to prove that the urban legend about the area is a hoax. They tell one of the saloon patrons that they’re going to the game refuge, and the local guy tells them that the people in the area don’t like tourists. Two of the young people from the Hoax Busters tourist party—Rene (played by Brittany Benita) and Tommy (played by Tristan David Luciotti)—are already hiking in the wooded area, when they’re startled to see a bearded man in his 20s, who gives them a menacing stare and growls at them: “Get gone.”
Back at the saloon, the group has a tour guide named Craig Eubanks (played by Adam Bitterman), who shows up to take them on the tour. Craig is a weird mix of goofy and cocky. His smarmy aura indicates that he’s willing to break the law for the right price. Rico shows up at the saloon and warns Craig and the tour group not to go on the private property where the Maxwells live. (But of course, we all know that warning won’t be heeded.)
Rico then tells them about the Maxwell family history and why the Maxwells are so bitter: The fracking poisoned the water, causing the Maxwell kids to have an unnaturally white pigment to their skin when they were born—and who knows how the poisoned water could’ve affected them mentally. It’s one of many plot holes in the movie’s script, which doesn’t explain why only the Maxwells were affected by the drinking water and not the other people in the area who presumably drank the same water.
Before the tour group heads up to the area, their colleagues Rene and Tommy in the woods have the misfortune of witnessing the Maxwell sons—older brother Patton (played by Weston Cage Coppola), who was the bearded man seen earlier, and his mute, mask-wearing brother Apple (played by Bailey Coppola)—react violently when two of the fracking company workers confront the brothers. Let’s just say that a scythe and a rope are used as murder weapons, and the Maxwell sons are not the ones who end up dead.
In fact, much like “Friday the 13th” villain Jason Voorhees (another mute, mask-wearing serial killer who came from a secluded, wooded area), Apple is able to survive wounds that would kill a person in real life. It should come as no surprise that this death-defying ability will become apparent in the obligatory scene where someone we’re supposed to think has been killed isn’t really dead after all. It’s become such a cliché in slasher flicks, that entire film franchises have been built on these type of fake death scenes.
“Get Gone” is such an amateur film that when the scythe is used to hack someone to death, there isn’t even any blood spatter. And the Maxwell brothers’ skin pallor is described in the movie as being like an albino. But the makeup for the film is appallingly sloppy, because it just looks like white powder haphazardly coated on the skin instead of a convincing-looking skin condition. Furthermore, the acting is incredibly stilted and awkward in scenes that are supposed to be suspenseful. There are tacky homemade videos on YouTube that are scarier than “Get Gone.”
Since movies like this are supposed to have a dead body count, it isn’t long before the rest of the people in the Hoax Busters tour group arrive by van in the wooded area, where they plan to camp out for a few days. Craig, their obnoxious guide, orders them to hand over their phones, which he gives to the van driver, who drives off with the phones. (Of course he does, because why would people in a horror movie who are going to a remote area for the first time with a creepy guy they’ve never met before need their phones in case of an emergency?) As one of the guys in the group says, they want to see if the “mythic albinos” really exist.
Sadly, the amateur filmmaking of “Get Gone” leaves one to wonder: What is scream queen Shaye (who’s best known for the “Insidious” films series) doing in this embarrassing mess? She’s done many horror B-movies before, but nothing that sinks to this level of awful. She didn’t do this movie for the money, because “Get Gone” obviously had an incredibly low budget. Maybe she owed someone a favor. Her agent certainly wasn’t doing her any favors by letting her sign on to this terrible project, which luckily for her won’t be seen by very many people.
How bad are the lines that Shaye has to utter in this movie? Here’s an example of what her Mama Maxwell character says when she rants to a visitor about the persecution she says her family has endured: “There are a lot of mean people. I mean mean! You know what I mean when I say ‘mean’?”
And yes, the Coppola actors in this movie are from that Coppola family: Weston Cage Coppola is the elder son of Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage. Bailey Coppola is the son of Christopher Coppola, who is one of Nicolas Cage’s siblings. And they’re all related to Oscar-winning filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia Coppola. Maybe “Get Gone” is Weston and Bailey’s way of proving to the world that they’re really not using the family name to get into quality movies.
Horror is not a movie genre that typically gets Oscars and other prestigious awards. People already know that it’s not a genre that appeals to film snobs. But even horror fans expect a certain level of competent acting, directing and storytelling that “Get Gone” doesn’t deliver. In this day and age where independent filmmakers have more access to affordable equipment now than in previous decades, and people have more entertainment choices than ever before, there’s really no good excuse to take the lazy way out and make a garbage movie that’s a waste of people’s time.
Cleopatra Entertainment will release “Get Gone” in select U.S. cinemas on January 24, 2020, and on VOD on January 28, 2020.