Starring: Michael Weston and A.J. Buckley
Director: Marc Schölermann
This film has been reviewed by Quentin and Nick as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of Fantastic Fest 2023.
As a low-budget, indie two-hander, Bark does a terrific job for most of its runtime. The slow-burn mystery keeps you on the hook as you try to determine who both the man on the tree (Michael Weston) and The Outdoorsman (A.J. Buckley) truly are, as well as how these two men have come to this point. That said, the ending comes completely out of left field. Yes, all is explained, but the reveal is never even hinted at beforehand, so it just arrives with a bit of an “oh…that’s why?” thud. Also, aside from being underwhelming, some people will just find the ending hard to stomach.
Bark is an interesting endeavor. The opening 20 minutes could stand alone as a satisfying short film, while everything that follows is basically a stage play on screen. There are two characters, one location, and a whole bunch of dialogue. It’s performed admirably by Michael Weston and A.J. Buckley, but it somehow manages to both meander and rush to a conclusion. The most frustrating part is that the finale is actually well-thought out (and emotionally affecting), but it isn’t given the time needed to land as well as it could have. Still, that reveal will stick with me for a bit.