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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.06.16] Canada thriller

Memory is a tricky thing because it's not concrete. It's a subjective, often fluid construct that can change based on everything from mood to physical surroundings and unless you're one of the lucky few graced with photographic memory, your memories are (regardless of whether you admit it to yourself or not) largely unreliable.

There have been a number of great films about memory - notably Christopher Nolan's Memento and Brad Anderson's The Machinist - and Alexander Lasheras' debut feature Cadence is a worthy entrant into the cannon of great thrillers about memory.

A passion project years in the making, Lasheras' films stars up-and-comer Max Chadburn as the titular Cadence, a young woman excited about spending the weekend with her boyfriend Taylor Lake (Charlie Kerr). Except Taylor isn't just a typical boyfriend – he happens to be a popstar loved by millions of fans young and old.

From the get go things are a little off. Cadence is having nightmares which she can't fully remember but that leave her a little unhinged. She's also dealing with the pressures that come from dating a celebrity and to make matters worse, she's hallucinating. At first the visions are creepy but as Cadence unfolds, they menacing before turning down right horrific and the entire time, the audience isn't quite sure what's going on. Is KK, as Taylor and his visiting best friends refer to Cadence, imagining things because she's stressed, is she going crazy or is something weirder going on?

Cadence is a really great thriller. Chadburn is perfectly cast as Cadence and the role requires her to often, and sometimes very quickly, shift from carefree to terrified and she more than lives up to the challenge. Taylor's friends KC and JJ are also brilliantly portrayed by David Kaye and Tony Giroux respectively. The only weak link performance wise is Charlie Kerr as Taylor. He's handsome but lacks the charisma of the other three actors which occasionally leads to scenes where he feels completely flat and uninteresting.

Lasheras is a filmmaker to watch. He clearly has a feel for how to create mood and atmosphere and uses both to his advantage, creating a movie that is both beautiful to look at and a taught thriller. The cinematography from Stirling Bancroft, Oliver Millar and Peter Planta beautifully captures the farm where the story unfolds while Mark Dolmont's score brings the entire thing together.

Though I walked away a bit disappointed with the "this-is-how-we-did-it" feel of Cadence's final act, I've also come to see it as totally necessary. The story is that much more powerful because of the final act not in spite of it.

Cadence is an impressive debut feature. Lasheras and his team stepped up to the challenge of creating a memorable thriller and the result isn't just a well made, entertaining film, it's also likely a calling card for bigger things to come.

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