SWEET RIVER (2020) Reviews and overview [updated]

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‘Back where they belong’

Sweet River is a 2020 Australian mystery horror film in which a mother returns to her hometown where her son is missing and presumed dead.

Directed by Justin McMillan from a screenplay co-written by Eddie Baroo and Marc Furmie, the ACM Films production stars Lisa Kay, Martin Sacks, aforementioned Eddie Baroo and Chris Haywood.


“The performance of Lisa Kay is truly fantastic, giving Hanna layers, as you can clearly see the burden of losing her child weighs so much on her. When the pieces finally do come together Sweet River has a truly crushing finale and will certainly affect even the sturdiest of viewers.” Bloody Flicks

“This is the first feature film from Justin McMillan and a damn fine one […] If you like your horror movies to have plenty of mystery and drama (and some supernatural elements as well as a serial killer), then Sweet River should hit your sweet spot.” Heaven of Horror

“Every actor gives an excellent performance in Sweet River, particularly Kay and Sacks. Kay brings to life the stages of mourning, from anger to questioning to acceptance. Sacks’s portrayal of John perfectly balances a struggle between keeping secrets in the dark and being a light for someone else–both his wife and Hanna, a stranger with whom he can connect through loss.” Killer Horror Critic

“Heart in right place energy, but tragically underutilises its locale and its abundant creepy tactility: the river just obscured from the main road (but from which you can see the cars hurtling oblivious at hundreds of kilometers an hour), the old dive bar, the dirt of the cornfields, the gothic manor(s). Worst of all it does what so many nu horror movies are guilty of, and that’s thinking ghosts were not always symbolic of something…” Max Coombes

Director Justin McMillan doesn’t over-explain who all the players are in this puzzle, but we can pick up on the disparate threads […] A little confusion isn’t a bad thing, but there’s more than enough to weaken the impact of the attempted frights here. This unsuspenseful blend of Lovely Bones mystery and Children of the Corn (Cane) sucks you into its gloom, but fails to deliver shock, awe or closure.” Movie Nation

“Bookended by the imagery of water and fire, this is a mature tale of conflicting elements and complicated emotions, of people stunted by grief yet slowly learning to resow fallow ground – and it is the sprinklings of genre which make Sweet River‘s psychological soil fertile with a final, bittersweet yield.” Projected Figures

“Where Sweet River falters is in trying to go down too many paths. There’s far too much unexplained, both in plot points and thematic threads. There are symbolism and portent, but it never fully pays out. It has the scares and is often creepy as hell, but in the end, like Hanna at the film’s start, we’re left with far too many questions.” Without Your Head

Cast and characters:

Lisa Kay … Hanna
Martin Sacks … John Drake
Eddie Baroo … Tom Evans
Chris Haywood … Nigel
Charlotte Stent … Violet
Sam Parsonson … Troy
Geneviève Lemon … Elenor
Jack Ellis … Simpkins
Bryan Probets … Clayton
Jeremy Waters … James Lipton
Jayden McGinlay … Max
Rob Carlton … Wilkins

Technical details:

102 minutes


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