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Canadian Film Fest Review: Ashgrove

March 26, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The 2022 Canadian Film Fest runs in two segments from March 22nd to 26th and March 29th to April 2nd, exclusively on Super Channel.

A few years back, Canadian filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde and actor Jonas Chernick collaborated together on the Canadian time travel comedy James vs. His Future Self. Now they return with the sci-fi-tinged Ashgrove, a different type of high-concept, low-budget film. This one co-stars Chernick as Jason, the husband of scientist Dr. Jennifer Ashgrove (Amanda Brugel). The world is battling a virus that feeds on oxygen molecules in the water, which makes water toxic to the human body and means that they can only drink a set number of millilitres per day in order to survive without it becoming fatal, and Jennifer is close to finding a solution to this global crisis.

Much of Ashgrove actually unfolds at the country home of Jennifer and Jason, where they have gone for the weekend to try to unwind and relax after Jennifer starts experiencing some blackouts. But cracks are starting to appear in their relationship as they go through the usual rituals together. While LaLonde usually operates more in the space of comedy, he has returned with an effective pandemic chamber drama. The film doesn’t go that deep into the mechanics of its water-based plague, but uses it to add a ticking time bomb and a deep sense of dread to its story of marital strife. And it works.

The screenplay, a joint effort between LaLonde, Chernick and Brugel, keeps us guessing and interested in the plot and characters, building to a twist that works to both disorient the audience and bring deeper meaning to everything that came before. It’s an intriguing film, carried by the strong performances of Brugal and Chernick.

Ashgrove plays tonight on Super Channel at 9 PM and Midnight (ET). Tickets and more information can be found right here.

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