Chattanooga Film Festival: The Ones You Didn’t Burn (2022)

I’ve said it before, I’ll certainly say it again, but if your parent — who you have been estranged from — calls you repeatedly with strange messages and then they die and you need to set their affairs in order, just stay away. You don’t need the money, the aggravation or the supernatural onslaught.

Nathan (Nathan Wallace) and Mirra (Jenna Sander) are in no way close. The only thing that connects them would be the same parents and now that their father is dead, that connection is in the past. In town to handle the old farm — where everyone in town worked, so there’s already some resentment — they soon both live out the Thoreau quote that begins this movie: “I believe men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung.”

Nathan starts having vivid nightmares of a woman rising from the sea and soon starts feeling the same dread that his father felt; the family had long ago stolen the land and then used the people around it for decades to help them make their livelihood. This causes him to spiral back into addiction with the help of old enabling friend Greg (Samuel Dunning) — nice Bolt Thrower shirt by the way — while his sister grows close with the very people who once toiled in her father’s fields, Alice (director Eliese Finnerty) and her sister Scarlett (Estelle Girard Parks).

This is Finnerty’s first full-length film and it moves quickly — it has a 70-plus minute running time, which I love — and the closing visuals are gorgeous. It made me think that while we truly own nothing, everything that we try to put on a mark on was owned by someone before us and worse, probably taken by force from them. Everything is cursed, when you think about it, but some worse than others.

Many years ago, an ancestor made it to the final degree of brotherhood and was taken to an island for his last rite and initiation. When he came home, he didn’t look the same, his eyes didn’t have any life and he just sat in a chair facing the window, miserable and depressed in a chair, telling everyone he was waiting to die. I thought about that story as I watched this and if I had any opportunity to claim his heritage, trust me, movies have taught me to run long, hard and fast. And never, ever steal anything from a woman.

Want to see it for yourself? It’s now playing as part of the Chattanooga Film Fest. Virtual tickets are available at www.chattfilmfest.org/

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