When Peter is drawn into the breaking-and-entering patterns of his older brother, the two discover treasure and opportunity but also draw the violent ire of the bully Red.
Tween Peter (Jaedan Martell, It) spends his days watching Popeye and wishing his brother Alan (Keean Johnson, Alita: Battle Angel) paid him more attention as they wait for their absent fisherman father to return. Alan has fallen in with two other locals, Red (Alex Neustaedter, A.X.L.) and Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri), who rob the homes of rich visitors to their New Jersey seaside town. When they break into the deserted home of a dead industrial titan and discover treasure, fractures in their quiet lives ripple out into the community.
Director and screenwriter Kevin McMullin tells a story grounded in the coming-of-age films of the 1980s and 1990s, with a nostalgic innocence bubbling up to the surface. The latent danger of the villain, Red, and the potential for heroism in the brothers makes for a compelling balance that seesaws back and forth throughout the film. While the local law enforcement officer warns Alan about the potential for goodness he sees in him, the film also highlights the previous violence Red has inflicted on another teen who slighted him. The brothers’ choice to keep the treasure a secret seems to provide them an opportunity to change their luck, but it also tips the scales—dangerously.
Thanks to the acting by the principal young men, the characters hold the audience’s attention and dare them to look away at the threats of violence that builds. The desire to better oneself, the potential to find love or meaning—these are all needs audiences of all ages can relate to, even if they have never found buried treasure. The treasure itself serves as a catalyst for the growing-up process that both Peter and Alan need; they must put away childish things, but it will certainly cost them.
Exciting, powerful, and at times, inspiring, Low Tide carries with it the echoes of films like Hell or High Water—more than entertainment, but trials of these times. Highlighting the financial desolation felt throughout the United States but acutely in pockets where industrial and other blue collar professions lie, the film joins others in pointing to the emotional anxiety of millenials and younger who long for purpose but find themselves locked in a cycle of poverty and pointlessness.
The Dove Take:
This more adult take on 1980s cult classics like The Goonies is for more mature viewers, but the coming-of-age elements for brothers Peter and Alan make for an exciting adventure—with some thoughtful caveats about growing up. The quality of the production, acting, and story leads to a “diamond in the rough” and garners our Dove Approval for 18+.