A Clever Horror Premise Runs Out of Steam

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A blind boy lives alone in the desolate woods with only a rope to guide him in horror-thriller Tethered.


TetheredMovie2022
4 Leagues Media

A blind boy lives alone in the deep woods with only a rope to guide him safely home. Tethered is an indie horror-thriller with a clever premise that starts strong. The foreboding setting, ominous music, and hinted presence of lurking danger set up an engaging first act. The film then dramatically loses steam as time progresses and a new character is introduced. The building mystery has a predictable resolve with few surprises. Tethered also falls into a rut of tired genre tropes that bludgeon creativity.

In a remote North Carolina forest, Mother (Alexandra Paul) teaches her blind son, Solomon (Brody Bett), how to survive. Their isolated cabin is stocked with supplies and food. Mother puts a rope around Solomon’s waist every time they venture outside. She hangs cans in trees for him to recognize the locations of their animal traps. They have a milking goat and a small garden. Mother tells him three rules he must always follow. Never leaving the cabin without the rope is the most important.

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Mother disappears without a trace. The sad boy listens to cassette tapes of her voice. Years pass, an older Solomon (Jared Laufree) continues to live in solitude. He hears a gunshot on a fateful day. Solomon, always tethered to his rope, finds a hunter nearby. Hank (Kareem Ferguson) is stunned to find Solomon by himself. As darkness falls, Hank asks to spend the night at the cabin. Curiosity has drawn him into Solomon’s odd situation. A visceral roar pierces their quiet dinner. Mother told Solomon to be wary of strange noises in the woods.

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Solomon intrigues as a blind character. But his daily routine in the wild definitely requires suspension of disbelief. My first thought was what happens if the rope gets snagged or accidentally severed? It seems impossible to be traipsing hundreds of feet into a dense treeline tied to a pole. Director/co-writer Daniel Robinette, to his credit, makes the primary story arc as believable as possible. Solomon’s methods of trapping, fishing, and chopping wood are shrewdly thought out. If only the film’s ending had been given such detailed attention.


Tethered Needs More Depth

Tethered is based on a short film by Daniel Robinette. His feature version needs more depth beyond the rope. Solomon has obviously been abandoned for a reason. Mother’s three rules give away what lies ahead in the final act. Hank becomes the typical brainless horror character that’s devoid of common sense. It’s ludicrous to run towards unknown danger in the pitch-black night. No one with an ounce of self-preservation would be so foolish. Yet horror films continue to be chock-full of such idiocy.

Tethered should be much scarier. The time jump between young and old Solomon loses a goldmine of fright. Imagine being a blind kid in a creepy cabin whose mother vanishes. Then having to forage and hunt with threatening noises surrounding you. The psychological impact of such desolation on a child would be terrifying. An opportunity for legitimate chills is wasted at a critical juncture.

Tethered is a production of 4 Leagues Media. It will have a VOD and limited theatrical release on March 18th from Gravitas Ventures.


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