23 Sep Beauty. Love. Madness. Exile.

This week’s exclusive, FridayFlix pick is the dramatic thriller, Deserted, starring the O.C.’s Mischa Barton. A homecoming story offering unexpected twists and turns, Deserted tells the story of Jae (Barton), a 24 year old who returns home from a stint in prison to her small, judgmental California town. Eager to escape the inevitable awkward encounters with friends and family, Jae jumps at the chance to attend a music festival in Death Valley with her brother Robin (Jackson Davis), his girlfriend Rosemary (Winter Ave Zoli) and a few of Rosemary’s friends. After their car breaks down en route, the group meets Troy, Dax, and Wade, a trio of friends also on their way to the Burn the Moon festival with spare room in their RV to boot. What begins as a promising trip filled with laughs and new friends soon turns tragic. Now this group of acquaintances must navigate through this dangerous terrain and find a way to escape the perils of the desert landscape.

Like the mysterious beauty of the backdrop it so prominently features, Deserted unspools its events slowly and methodically. Beautiful imagery captures the dangerous, seductive spirit of the desert and mirrors the underlying tensions between the characters. As food and water become scarce and the prospect of finding help begins to dwindle, the group’s sense of hopelessness brings these the tensions to the surface. Jae, in particular, is forced to confront her demons and acknowledge her role in her mother’s death, the cause of her two year long prison sentence. Barton, always excelling in the aloof roles, is a standout here. Not to be neglected, however, is the supporting cast, a varied group of actors who bring their own individual voices to the table.

The real star of Deserted is the desert itself. Captured so beautifully on camera, Death Valley’s landscape perfectly frames the action of the story. From the majestic beauty of a desert sunset to the terror of a sandstorm, the cinematography of Deserted alone merits the film worthy of recognition.

Watch Deserted  exclusively on FlixFling.

This guest blog was written by Colleen Shields.