By Don Simpson | March 20, 2012
Director: Clay Jeter
Writers: Clay Jeter, Isaac Hagy, Will Basanta, Debra Jeter, Nikki Jeter Wilbanks
Starring: Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers, Marie Coleman, Don Fleming, Haley Parker, Haley Strode
Jess (Sarah Hagan) is a Kentucky teenager who has been abandoned by her mother; her younger second cousin, Moss (Austin Vickers), lost both of his parents in a car accident. Despite their age difference, it is the bond of their parents’ past friendship that seems to hold Jess and Moss together as the world around them deteriorates into oblivion.
With nary an adult in sight, Jess and Moss fend for themselves. They approach life just as they would a game of make-believe or hide and seek; transforming the nearly abandoned farmland around them into a fantastical post-apocalyptic playground. They pass the time during these lazy, humid summer days recalling memories, dreams and stories.
Like two lost souls swimming in a celluloid fishbowl, sometimes it feels like Jess and Moss are ghosts, caught in a state of limbo between past and present. Reconnecting with their past serves as an escape from the brutal reality of their present; it also serves as a lifeline to reality. To aid them in this endeavor, they listen to audio recordings of their parents and “Mega Memory” self-help tapes.
Jess + Moss is like a Southern Gothic fairytale that tells of how friendship and dreams can be used to ward off the horrors of abandonment and economic devastation. Cinematically speaking, Jess + Moss bravely straddles the line between experimental and narrative storytelling. Writer-director Clay Jeter conveys the story in a meandering stream of consciousness style akin to William Faulkner; the non-linear structure lends the narrative the allusion of a surrealist dream. The sun-drenched world of Jess + Moss is timeless, impressionist and vibrantly hyper-real.
Jess + Moss is now available on DVD courtesy of Baxter Brothers Film Releasing and distributed exclusively by Strand Releasing.