While in couple’s counseling, Ada and her boyfriend, Calvin, realize that she has no memory of her childhood and seems to have blocked it entirely. Believing this might be the reason for the lack of intimacy in their relationship, they set out to visit Ada’s hometown in hopes of finding some answers. What they actually discover is terrifying and may prevent them from leaving the town alive.
In recent reviews I’ve talked about how it’s nice that the movies stayed within the confines of the their particular genre’s formula, and it’s true. Sometimes it pays to stick to the basics. Other times though, being adventurous is needed. Lex Lybrand and Brandon Stroud had mentioned in an interview that “Meet Me There” started out as a standard slasher but then they decided to do something a bit more challenging.
Ada and Calvin find themselves in couple’s counseling since, every time the two of them start becoming intimate and physical with one another, Ada completely shuts down. Almost becoming a different person. They hope through counseling they can uncover the source of Ada’s problem — a problem they discover might stem from her forgotten childhood. Even with photos and family, Ada cannot remember anything from being a kid. In an attempt to help her remember, Calvin and Ada take a trip to her home town, Sheol. Once there, they begin having nightmarish hallucinations with ghoulish figures speaking to them in riddles. In their attempt to find answers about Ada’s past, the two begin to slowly discover the dark and horrifying secrets hidden beneath the surface of the small quiet town.
On paper, “Meet Me There” has some typical horror scenarios: small town full of weirdos, a main character revisiting their past, the terrible secrets that lies within their hidden past, etc. The movie’s material was handled in a different manner where it felt more personal and perhaps a bit more focused on the dramatic, rather than the horrific. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. With “Meet Me There”, it’s a movie where I can appreciate what it was trying to accomplish even if it didn’t always meet a particular goal.
My only real qualm with the movie comes from the choice made with cinematography. Again, “Meet Me There” is a character piece; it’s about Ada (Lisa Friedrich) facing her own demons rather than the horrors that are beneath a small town surface. And of course, one of the tricks with cinematography are the close-ups of the characters to create that personal connection between the audience and the movie. With “Meet Me There”, a lot of the movie is shot with close-ups, or at the very least, tight framing. I often wanted the camera to simply step back and let me see the world that Ada and Calvin (Michael Foulk) were trapped in. It would have helped with the atmosphere and would have helped the more dramatic moments with the characters have more weight. Instead the movie had a tendency to come off as claustrophobic since it felt like I was right next to the characters the entire time.
Regardless, what the movie does get right is capturing the tone of what it’s like for Ada coming to terms with the nightmares of her past. In a way, it becomes the driving force behind the movie’s concept: is there something wrong with the town, and it’s people, or is Ada merely projecting her own fears? There’s an answer there but the movie distills enough ambiguity that you can never be quite sure — the movie could leave viewers with more questions than answers. Then again, that’s what makes “Meet Me There” more engrossing. It’s never knowing quite where the line is between reality and nightmare for Ada and because the horror elements are being drawn from an internal source rather than it being simply a town full of crazies.
“Meet Me There” will probably not satisfy the cravings of a general horror audience as there very few of those tropes there, outside of the basic framework for the story. The movie is more drama based; a character going to face her own personal and mental demons but discovers that they may have come from something real, something physical. Being Lex Lybrand’s second feature, “Meet Me There” still has some rough edges to it — also coming from the movie’s budget constraints. Even so, it’s a movie that’s carried by its concept because it’s trying to do something more and explore something personal with the characters.