Editor’s Notes: Sunset Edge is currently out in limited release (NY/LA).
In my earlier years as a teen all the way though the end of my high school years, there was an abandoned house that my cousins and I would always explore. Located right across our grandfather’s house, it was the perfect place for us to go when we had had enough of the stuffiness of being inside with the adults. I even took an old girlfriend there once or twice to show off our family secret.
Setting his story entirely in an abandoned trailer park in North Carolina, Peddle paints a world that simultaneously haunting and beautiful.
Originally we played around in just the main house, which was the furthest thing from barren an abandoned house could be. Furniture was placed in an orderly way, beds still and sheets, fridges were still stocked with food that had long since rotted. Then there was the weird stuff. We found demonic-looking symbols and statues hidden in one of the bedrooms. There was a briefcase that contained off-putting instruments, a high school girl’s portrait. a lengthy lock of hair, a voodoo doll and what looked like the skeleton of a dead cat.
Eventually whoever was still visiting the house caught on and boarded up the side window we would use to crawl in. No matter. We’d crawl in through the basement that held other treasures and secrets (many of which had been covered with the ever-mounting dirt) we could only see with a flashlight. Most of the time we would have to crawl on our hands and knees, ignoring whatever animals or bugs (living or otherwise disposed) lay in our path because we knew that what was on the other side of this hellish basement was so worth it. And just when we thought the mystery of the place we simply called “The House” held no more secrets, we found the path that led to an old barn, littered with old tools, more dead animals, and what looked like tens of thousands of old bonds.
As time wore on, the place became too scary for us and we never went back. I’m usually incredibly hesitant to believe in ghosts, demons, deities or any sort of supernatural stuff, but there was something about that house that was different that anywhere I have ever been. Your entire mood changed when you were there. Your heart plummeted, stomach tied itself in knots, and yet your heart soared when you found another mystery. We would hear voices, footsteps, and even sometimes witness things move for no reason. On more than one occasion the house would terrify us so much we would flee it and swear never to return only to begin another adventure together on the next family get together.
It is obvious from the film’s opening moments that Daniel Peddle is a director who understands that film is a sensory experiences that extends far beyond watching simple images and being spoon-fed dialogue and exposition.
“The House” held the magical ability to simultaneously terrify and excite us. There was something equally mortifying and beautiful about an abandoned place that still held signs of everyday life. I have seen many movies about abandoned and haunted house in my time as an eager devourer of cinema, but none have come as close to recapturing the emotions and atmosphere as Daniel Peddle’s Sunset Edge has done.
Peddle holds a background in casting (he was responsible for spotting a young Jennifer Lawrence on the street and placing her in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad) as well documentary films, but Sunset Edge marks his first narrative feature. His film is less concerned with telling a straightforward narrative than it is creating an atmosphere and mood. In regards to that latter goal, Sunset Edge soars with flying colors. Setting his story entirely in an abandoned trailer park in North Carolina, Peddle paints a world that simultaneously haunting and beautiful.
With the help of cinematographer Karim Lopez, Peddle creates some of the most visually arresting images cinema has seen this year. From its eerily dreamy opening to its shadowy final act, Sunset Edge fully immerses you in a real world that lingers in the back of your mind long after the final notes of Ian Hatton’s mesmerizing score have ended. Also crucial to the film’s unshakable effect is the sound work from Justin Fox and Ian Hatton, whose incredible sound work adds another layer of sensory ecstasy.
It is obvious from the film’s opening moments that Daniel Peddle is a director who understands that film is a sensory experiences that extends far beyond watching simple images and being spoon-fed dialogue and exposition. Although the minimal narrative does occasionally threaten bring the 87-minute film to come to somewhat of a standstill, Peddle throws in enough twists and turns to keep the film engaging. This is a story open to interpretation and likely not intended to have one simple answer. While I enjoyed the film’s open-ended narrative, it is Peddle’s masterful blend of the visual and aural aspects of his story that solidifies Sunset Edge as a film I’m not likely to forget.
it is Peddle's masterful blend of the visual and aural aspects of his story that solidifies Sunset Edge as a film I'm not likely to forget.