Across the River with Marco Marchese
Across The River is a haunting tale of isolation and the struggle for sanity. Within that struggle is where we find biologist Marco Contrada (played by the amazing Marco Marchese); tracking foxes and boars near the Italian/Slovenian Border. He makes his way across a pass that then floods, trapping him in a very remote and secluded forest. There he comes across an old, abandoned township with a not-so-pleasant past. To tell much more wouldn’t do the film justice, it is simply a style of truly suspenseful horror, which has been forgotten about in a time of cheap trickery.
Hollywood at the moment seems focused on a style of horror I will call Jack-In-The-Box style suspense. You know he’s in the box, I know he’s in the box, and sooner or later, he is going to pop out. You’ll jump, we’ll laugh, and we’ll do it again. Across The River, on the other hand, has a more Schrödinger’s Cat style of suspense, where you honestly have absolutely no idea what is going to happen and if you don’t look you will find yourself in this constant state of wonder. We have become so accustomed to this constant build up, pay off, build up, pay off, that Across The River may come across to some as slow, but personally I found it genius.
Talking with Marco Marchese, the shoot was not an easy one in such rugged terrain, which truly comes through in the cinematic and exceptionally visual style of the film.
“The main challenge was related to the temperature, the places and the risk of accident, because of vegetation, rocks, holes, moss,” says Marco, ”In short, in situations and places like that there was enough footing to knock a few bones or worse, tumbling down a cliff. And if it happened, you know that before you can get to the hospital, you would have had a lot of time to complain. When it got dark, then is better do not talk about it. At night the temperature was about -5 to -10 and stay outside for 12 hours was very complicated, so feet and hands froze. Make you think the question, ‘But maybe can something happen?’”
The cold though, it seems, wasn’t even the most dangerous part of the shoot.
“I was worried enough about the return to the city late at night, where I had to travel a long stretch in the dark and without cover for mobile phone. To the sides of the road there was no guard rail, but ice on the pavement. And I thought, ‘Fuck, if I go astray… Maybe somebody find me tomorrow’ and believe me the woods at night is scary.”
I ask Marco about this overwhelming sense of loneliness that is a constant feature throughout the film and his answer is truly quite beautiful.
“I felt the pleasure of showing the anguish, loneliness, madness, and the fact that I do not feel very normal. Live a life that is not mine is the only condition of normality. Up to a certain point what you see is what would really happen, then for sure being forced to stand in a remote, isolated place… Well, has sparked the imagination and the delirium of Marco Contrada.”
But overall Marco was elated with the experience. Being that it was his very first film, he already created his own preparation style. I was curious about the challenges faced, especially by such a newcomer to the acting scene, of creating this sense of isolation while being surrounded by a full crew of filmmaking professionals.
“Before entering fully into the character that was complicated enough, or you were there or not there. No problem with the crew … No problem. I get in the car, I’m going to take out the trash and then go into the garage ok? Well, I put the song Immersion by Lustmord on for example and I start to savour the dark atmosphere…. or maybe even listening Handel’s Sarabande from Barry Lyndon and then ‘feel’ thoughts and feelings of that man… I go on like this… So, absolutely not problem if I saw the crew… The association of images and music is the thing that drives all of us crazy yes? And it is one of the most beautiful things in the world…”
Marco has a true passion for this film and it simply bleeds from the screen. He truly believes in this film and after having the pleasure of seeing it, I do too. I couldn’t recommend this enough, as this truly is a movie bucking the suspenseful Hollywood trends.