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Disappearance at Clifton Hill


‘…the tricky story of an unreliable female investigator who delves into a childhood mystery…’

So here’s a little lockdown project for us all to ponder; WTFF is going on in Albert Shin’s moody whodunit? Buried away in Netflix in a pile of dud horrors and low-budget creepies, this isn’t horror or sci-fi, but a straight up ‘guess–who-the-killer-is’ number except…except it’s not obvious what actually happened when the end credits roll…

In a plot that feels like a cousin of Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, this is the tricky story of an unreliable female investigator who delves into a childhood mystery that may lead to a murder investigation in the modern world. Abby (Tuppence Middleton) returns to Niagara Falls after the death of her mother, and lodges with her sister Laura (Hannah Gross) and her husband (Noah Reid from Schitt’s Creek). Aby is haunted by a wounded, one-eyed boy she’s glimpsed as a child, and sets out to find out what really happened. Is scheming businessman Charles Lake III responsible? What about the sinister cadaverous podcaster played by David Cronenberg? Or maybe the dodgy team of magicians known as the Magnificent Moulins? Even their assistant seems to be hiding something more than just a wheel-chair bound gimp, but what?

‘Not all haunted houses are haunted, not all fun-houses are fun,’ muses Abby in an arresting opening, and Clifton Hill offers plenty of evidence that it’s a cut above most thrillers. Middleton is a strong, evasive lead as the unreliable narrator Abby, and her own inability to tell the truth is a major factor in the weighting we give to the evidence she accumulates. Cronenberg also makes a strong impression as the dour conspiracy nut who offers a useful counterpoint to Abby’s Nancy Drew investigation. And the detail is engagingly off; the Moulin’s performances are recorded on ancient VHS, and Clifton Hill offers some hauntingly Videodrome-style subtext to its elusive murder mystery.

But what did it mean? Even after reading message boards and plot synopsis, I’m still none the wiser. Vague spoiler alerts, sure, but the mystery is solved, the police move in, arrests are made, and there’s a final, last minute twist involving a one-eyed man who says….well, if he’s who he seems to be, then what have we just been watching? Was there ever a murder? What happened? Was it tigers, magicians, or what? If YOU know what happened at Clifton Hill, please get in touch…our investigative team are keen to hear from you…


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  1. Jeepers, batman, I was going to try to figure it out, for my own sake, but looks like the title is geo restricted or something. Google pulls results from Netlix on it, but then throws an error page after I click . . . 🍕

  2. I was always attracted to Tuppence Middleton films just from the name Tuppence. If anything symbolised the magic of movies it was a lassie who had the guts to go by the name of Tuppence. I was always convinced this was just an extension of the Roman notion of Sextus and Tertius and I am sure somewhere there is a sibling hidden away known as Threepence. Of course, if she ever becomes a huge star there will be generations of kids called Tuppence. Not a bad career ambition.

    • I thought it was a cool name, although for some reason I thought she was related to the equally posho sounding Tom Hiddleton. Hiddleton and Middleton being film stars sounds like we’re in 1910.

  3. Is this one of the “I, the Director, am SO smart that I’m going to fool everyone and just do whatever the heck I want even if it makes no sense to your plebian, non-drugged out brains” kind of movie?
    Because I have to wonder that….

  4. I sometimes go to online sources for explanations of plot points I didn’t get the first time around. Though sometimes I wonder how authoritative these are. Then there are movies that deliberately don’t tell you what’s going on. I mean, where does Anna disappear to in L’Avventura? What happened to those girls at Hanging Rock? You could read the novel in the latter case, but the movie chose to go in a different direction so it’s ultimately meant to be a puzzle without a solution.

    Anyway, this sounds intriguing so I may take a chance on it.

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