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‘A Desert’ Review: Joshua Erkman’s Debut Feature Is an Intriguing but Murky, Horror-Adjacent Mystery

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Dennis Harvey Film Critic It’s easy to get lost in the desert, a fate that befalls Joshua Erkman’s debut feature. While his protagonists eventually get dangerously close to some lurid, lethal goings-on, this self-described “neo-noir horror” leaves a vague and rudderless final impression despite its intriguing-enough buildup. “A Desert” aims for the enigmatic, supernaturally-tinged mystery of something like Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” but in the end lacks the tension and atmosphere to pull that tricky gambit off.

Nonetheless, its arty sojourn through backroads-thriller terrain is likely to gain some supporters as a Tribeca Fest midnight section premiere.

An opening sequence expanded upon much later introduces the idea that what we’re watching is some sort of purgatorial film loop that traps the unwary.

But like several other conceits here, it’s never developed enough to take finite shape. Still, we first meet Alex Clark (Kai Lennox) as he’s exploring a dark, dusty cinema in the Mojave.

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