With CROOKED CREEK, I’m looking to craft a contemporary suspense thriller that appeals to a modern audience’s sensibilities by re-working the genre’s main narrative components and by upending the traditional construction of character point of view.
Unlike conventional noirs that take place in urban environments, CROOKED CREEK repositions noir’s dark themes in small town, rural Middle America — illustrating the palpable evil that now exists in our country’s heartland. While CROOKED CREEK has been designed in the vein of modern noirs like GONE GIRL and THE GRIFTERS, I am interested in reinventing the genre’s gender codings by transforming the standard “noir hero” into one of the screen’s first “male fatales”. Fans of the genre know to expect the existence of a strong, and ultimately threatening femme fatale like Ruth, but CROOKED CREEK breaks new ground when Ruth must go up against a devious and handsome male fatale, Richard. Each fatale is sexy and dangerous and each seeks to manipulate and destroy the other.
I am also interested in deconstructing the historically misogynist conception of the “femme fatale”. Unlike many of the femme fatales of classic noir films, who are one dimensionally evil, CROOKED CREEK’s Ruth has genuine reasons for her behavior. I feel that giving Ruth her own humanity allows the audience to side with her at times which puts them in an upsetting position since so many of Ruth’s actions are extremely deadly and shocking.
I’ve found the character-driven suspense thriller provides an exciting way to explore and comment upon our contemporary world.
My desire with CROOKED CREEK is to awaken audiences to what I see as a new, darker variation of the American Dream — one that is emerging quickly. Within a system that has been rigged against true social and financial advancement, Ruth and Richard use the con as the essential vehicle to acquire what has been promised but not delivered. CROOKED CREEK may also be seen as a modern parable. With the world surrounding us becoming more of an illusion, and with Facebook and Social Media allowing us to project non-existent identities in order to achieve whatever goal we have, it makes complete sense con artists like Ruth and Richard slip into alternative but very dangerous personas with such ease.
My approach to the visual construction of CROOKED CREEK is to focus the ‘point of view’ in the first act on the “nephew” Richard, and then when the audience realizes he is a dangerous con man at the beginning of the second act, the POV will switch to “Aunt Ruth”. Midpoint, when Ruth and Richard dispose of the Sheriff, the POVs will be become married. The audience will not know whom to trust. In addition, I will begin to constrict and collapse screen space as the true identities of the characters become apparent, providing images with the same inescapable and claustrophobic tension that the viewers are experiencing emotionally. I intend to utilize the seasonal autumn environment of rural Minnesota to accentuate CROOKED CREEK’s darker themes.