Year:  2022

Director:  Cory Choy

Release:  June 2, 2023

Distributor: Terror Films

Running time: 105 minutes

Worth: $14.00
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Audrey Grace Marshall, Stacey Weckstein

Strange, slow and occasionally scary ...

Strange, slow and occasionally scary, Esme, My Love is a things-are-not-what-they seem thriller with supernatural horror elements…

There are only two players – mother Hannah and her young daughter Esme. Hannah (Stacey Weckstein) brings Esme (Audrey Grace Marshall) to a secluded, derelict family farmhouse – first they journey by road, then they hike through beautiful wooded landscape to the abandoned house, where Hannah, quite literally, begins to dig up the past.

Esme calls her mother by her first name and complains that Hannah is too clingy. Hannah at first appears to be a loving mother who is trying to establish a traditional, affectionate relationship with her daughter. But why does she stand and watch Esme frantically struggle when she falls in the water? Why does Hannah carry a knife that she appears to want to use on Esme? And who, exactly, is the oft-referenced Emily? In other words, what the hell is going on?

In one chilling moment, it looks like this is going to be a creepy kid flick … but then it seems that Hannah – who’s losing her sanity – is the scary one. It’s not clear and it’s not meant to be, with co-writer/director Cory Choy playing games with his audience, and you never quite know what’s real and what’s not. But he leaves quite a few clues and he’s big on symbolism – especially the multiple references to digging, something that Hannah does a lot of as she finds trinkets and remnants of her family’s past in the grounds around the farm.

There’s a fair bit open to interpretation in this beautifully shot and well acted indie flick. Weckstein is excellent as Hannah, although a tad over the top at times, while Marshall is superb as the daughter who watches her mother unravel. The soundtrack is suitably haunting, and the vibe is eerie. But this thriller only has a few thrills and too much repetition.

Choy, who has a background as a sound recordist, has said that Esme, My Love was inspired by real life stories that he’s heard – one supernatural, one about a property in upstate New York. Esme, My Love isn’t a satisfying film, but it does stay with you as you try to fit the pieces together.