#Float (2022) Review
#Float, the debut feature from producer (Climate of the Hunter, Bloodline) turned writer/director Zac Locke, is the latest vlogger/influencer-themed horror film to be washed up onto my viewing list. It’s the story of Kali Fyre (Kate Mayhew) an aspiring online celebrity who lives with her less than supportive boyfriend Jackson (Miguel Muñoz).
Every year they and some friends, Madison (Scarlett Sperduto, Strive, The Letter), Dee (Kaya Coleman, Come True, Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders), Blake (Grant Morningstar, Find Me, Those Who Walk Away), Zola (Christina Nguyen, Lion) take a float trip down a local river, but this year the mood is a bit different. One of their group died of an OD on last year’s trip and they’re going to scatter his ashes on the river this year. That just adds to the tension between Kali and Jackson. It also doesn’t help that Dee is interested in Blake who is coming with Zola and their daughter Thea (Ophelia Lichtenstein) despite the fact they’re supposedly no longer a couple.
It’s apparent almost from the start that there’s going to be a difference in how the audience reacts to #Float’s central characters. If you’re into the whole influencer then you’ll probably love them. If not, you’ll quickly be wishing them a slow and painful death. At one point Madison gets shitty with Dee because she’s been too busy studying for her law school entrance exams to follow Kali’s videos. And she’s still more likable than Blake.
Finally, after the obligatory warnings from a creepy local (Matt Wise) that the river is “taking people” and a few ominous point-of-view shots, #Float gets its characters out on the river and pulls a major switch on the viewer when the first of the group vanishes quickly followed by a reasonably bloody impalement. And, the group’s numbers continued to be whittled down from there.
I have to give #Float credit for not being another formulaic horror film. It plays with the viewer’s expectations of who is going to die and when. It also takes place mostly during the day in bright sunlight rather than at night. Locke uses woods and water rather than darkness to hide things from the characters and the viewers. It works a lot better than I expected, but I could feel a difference between those scenes and the ones that take place after sunset.
There’s also a fair bit of mystery about just what is going on and whether #Float is a slasher or a supernatural film. There’s an obvious human suspect but then things happen that he seemingly couldn’t have been involved in. That leads us to wonder if there is a supernatural element involved. And if there is how does our flesh and blood suspect fit in? As the story shifts into its later stages, his actions and motives become more ambiguous.
Unfortunately, neither of those questions is satisfactorily answered. A visit by the ghost of their friend Chuy (Cristobal Reyes) still leaves a lot unanswered. Even the final confrontation, while effective and bloody, doesn’t provide much in the way of answers either, in fact, it actually raises more questions. And that, along with the fact that the characters are so unpleasant, I mean who brings their five-year-old on a drunken rafting trip, are what end up hurting #Float.
In the end, Locke ends up with a debut film that, while not entirely successful is watchable and has some interesting elements. It’s also quite possible that viewers closer to the character’s ages than I am might find some of them more relatable than I did. Between that and its summer setting, it could make for decent escapist fare on a cold winter night.
XYZ Films will release #Float to VOD and Digital platforms on December 9th.