The Alpines gathers a group of college friends together after a number of years of separation. The lake house setting quickly conjures The Big Chill, and of course, the cracks in the relationships soon emerge. So like the 1983 classic, the past is destined to force an accounting and the Dante Aubain film goes about escalating the drama methodically and effectively. But this 93 minute feature, which was written by cast member Mally Corrigan, contains one serious bogey among the alum. As a result, the outcome goes much further than the 80s ‘Chill’ and probably too far for its own good.
Zach (Aaron Latta-Morissette) opens the events in his therapist’s office. The fact that he considers himself a “failure, a disappointment and a burden” is startling, but Latta-Morissette’s low key demeanor pacifies any real concern.
Nonetheless, the games begin. Logan (Mally Corrigan) pulls up in her smart shoes and can’t disguise her passive disdain for Rowan. In turn, Rowan (Katrina Flick) does her best to deny the disconnect Logan has for her, and ultimately, Rowan tips her hand as Logan and Andy (Jessie Mac) hug out their feminine affections.
The grimaces and winces by the two competing actresses really set the tone for what is to come and Roger (Daniel Victor) and Gil (Michael Taveira) take it from there. Meeting in the driveway, the sarcasm that the duo drips begs the faucet to run at full blast.
On the other hand, there seems to be plenty of booze, blunts and pills to take the edge off. The same goes for the expansive lakeside setting. Secluded and living large among the greenery, the cinematography by Aubain screams that these kids have done well for themselves.
The natural scenery isn’t the only thing that looks good, and time has not caught up to any of these revelers. So as the intoxicants and bathing suit bodies grab hold, the inhibitions give way and the flirtations go into high gear. A great lead into a past that is replete with romantic entanglements, and the remaining intricacies pull hard on a facade that probably should have fallen long ago.
That said, Zach seems to be the odd man out and Latta-Morissette’s performance assigns a tragic sense of loneliness to the character. The lingering score by sound designer Sebastian Goodridge emphasizes what Zach has always had to endure and foretells trouble.
But before everything simmers to a boil, the drama goes in a completely different direction. The get together is a ruse. The seven invitations and the house the group occupies is of unknown origin.
The sound of thunder and an impending storm doubles down the mystery, and the turn of events feels like another secluded cinematic vacation spot – The Shining. So as the uncertainty deepens and a cryptic threat is added, the potential is definitely there to go off the rails.
However, the core rifts and triangular love interests still dominate and the Kubrick aspect takes a backseat. So yes, the unresolved issues that the actors portray ensnare the viewer and strings the drama along but a commensurate ending was more in order.
Thus, the storm passing and the sun shining should have sent them all packing. Instead, resolving the past takes precedence over whatever the nefarious aims might be. So instead of going all Jack Nicholson, a more appropriate bow could have been applied and forced the cast members to actually face the pain of their past, present and future decisions. The weight would have cut just as deeply, and everything set up so well, a great opportunity was lost by The Alpines.