Movie Review: THREE PEAKS

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German director Jan Zabeil’s beautifully crafted sophomore narrative feature, Three Peaks, is a truly disturbing film.

It’s a horror story without any gimmicks, ghosts, ghouls or goblins. There is no paranormality of any sort.

In fact, the story, unfolding in a pristine mountain setting, revolves around a very normal modern threesome — two adults and a child — who take a family vacation in a relatively isolated cabin.

Lea (Berenice Bejo) and her new but serious boyfriend Aaron (Alexander Fehling), and Tristan (Arian Montgomery), her eight year old son by her previous husband marriage, set out for fresh air, fun and family bonding. There is nothing artificial in the set up. The story is entirely plausible — and terrifying.

Lea and Aaron are intensely in love and intent upon building their relationship. They discuss how Tristan can be comfortably included in their relationship. They hope Tristan will accept Aaron in the role of new dad, while maintaining a relationship with his biological dad.

Aaron genuinely embraces Tristan, treating him as a good father would, looking after him, working and playing with him in the majestic mountain setting, taking responsibility for his safety and trying to establish a close relationship with him. But Tristan basically wants Aaron to be out of the picture. He thinks that with Aaron gone, his mother and biological father will reconcile.

The situation causes dramatic tensions between Lea and Aaron, who make love silently so they won’t awaken Tristan who sleeps in a nearby bed and who discuss ways to make the boy accept Aaron’s presence and his role in the family’s life ongoing.

But the narrative’s most gripping tensions result from Tristan’s unexpectedly abhorrent behavior, a series of terrifying deceptions and secret aggressions that challenge Aaron, threatening his physical well being and, ultimately, his survival.

Tristan is by all appearances a normal boy, a much loved and seemingly innocent child who is unfortunately experiencing the doubts and disappoints that divorce brings to children. But his behavior — when the adults are sleeping — is all out “bad seed.” That it comes from inner angst makes it understandable on the one hand, but it is completely unacceptable on the other. The boy is sad,confused and hateful. At times it’s unclear whether both Tristan and Aaron will survive the vacation and if only one of them does, who it will be.

Mother nature in all her glory puts some thrilling twists into the plot. Rocky ledges, snow fields and blinding fog serve as cinematic treasures as well as major elements in the story which is paced perfectly for maximum suspense. That said, the film has a surprise ending. But there will be no spoilers here. Just be prepared by knowing that the tale doesn’t come to an easy conclusion.


Title: Three Peaks

Directors: Jan Zabeil

Release Date: June 28, 2019 (limited)

Running Time: 94 minutes

Language: English, French and German with English subtitles.

Screenwriter: Jan Zabeil

Distribution Company: Greenwich Entertainment


Official Website

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