Abandoned Life at Sunset Edge

Ross Staff Image

Sunset Edge is a long-abandoned trailer park somewhere in rural North Carolina. Two stories intersect here when a group of four skateboarding teens explore the remains while another lonesome teen wanders around discovering the grizzly secrets of the park’s past.

With Sunset Edge, director/writer/producer Daniel Peddle, author of Snow Day and the rest of the Four Seasons children’s series and the discoverer of Jennifer Lawrence, has succeeded in crafting a great looking nonlinear film that combines two of my favorite things, one of which is urban exploration. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to point out that the Library has some great books with fantastic pictures documenting these kinds of abandoned places, specifically Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences. It’s got a section dedicated to the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin.

Besides urban exploring, I love original movies (I’ve mentioned that before). Sunset Edge is no different.  When was the last time you saw a sexless, drugless, alcohol-less teen horror movie? But calling Sunset Edge a horror movie is too limiting a description. It’s a Southern Gothic thriller. A coming-of-age mystery. From the first scene of an old woman in wraithlike raiments to the final scene that makes you reconsider everything that came before it, Sunset Edge is a film that requires your attention. Granted, it’s not densely plotted, the dialogue is sparse and that last scene could be interpreted as a cheap cheat, but if you prefer slow-builds to jump-scares, then you’ll probably enjoy it. If it had even less plotting and dialogue, I’d say it was like a discount Terrence Malick film; the camera listlessly lingers on the beautiful North Carolinian landscapes in a dreamy, relaxed way.

The teens are filled with potential but, being disaffected youths, they haven’t realized it yet. Sunset Edge was once filled with similar potential that was never realized. They’re as alone and abandoned as the park in which they hang out, products of a throwaway culture exploring a culture that has literally been thrown away.

While there may be no ginormous payoff for the 87 minutes the audience spends in Sunset Edge, I’ve been thinking about all the things that Peddle—who’d only directed two documentaries prior to this—was possibly trying to say with this film. The teens are filled with potential but, being disaffected youths, they haven’t realized it yet. Sunset Edge was once filled with similar potential that was never realized. They’re as alone and abandoned as the park in which they hang out, products of a throwaway culture exploring a culture that has literally been thrown away.  The trailers are empty, save for discarded detritus, and in a lot of ways so are the teens. One of them even waxes poetically (read: nihilistically) about how meaningless life is. That’s an accurate depiction of what teens do, right?  I exiled myself to my room in my teen years after the batteries in my Giga Pet died.

Sometimes, we at Eleventh Stack highlight what’s popular—the book everyone is reading, the album everyone is streaming, the television show everyone is watching, but every so often, we get a chance to highlight a few hidden gems. Sunset Edge is truly an obscure find. How obscure is this film? When I checked it out, only seven people had previously borrowed it. On IMDb, it doesn’t even come up as an auto-complete option when you start typing it into the site’s search bar. When you eventually find it, it says only 40 users have rated the movie. IMDb is a site that allegedly has 65 million registered users. Do you realize how low 40 out of 65 million is? I put the equation into Google and the answer I got was:  “Error 404: Friends not found :(“. At the time of writing this, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Yes, the movie only came out last year, but Sunset Edge is about as far off the radar as it gets.

I can only hope that I’ve put it on yours.

Are you one of the 47 people who’ve seen Sunset Edge? Do you like urban exploration? Let me know in the comments below.

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Ross works as a clerk at the Mt. Washington branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He loves reading books and watching movies and will often ramble about the two here.