Katlyn Carlson as Sloan in “Holly Star,” which was filmed in 2016 in Biddeford, Saco, Cape Elizabeth and other Maine locations. Photo courtesy of The Orchard

Since it’s safe to assume that – thanks to the coronavirus and an abundance of Maine wisdom – we’re all in the same boat and everybody’s reading (or, in my case, writing) this from the responsibly life-saving seclusion of our homes, let’s admit something uncomfortable — even shocking. There seems to be a limit to the amount of time we can spend parked on the couch watching the same movies over and over again. Look, I’m as shocked as anyone. 

Still, your Indie Film desk is here to help. Since our handy “coming to local screens” sidebar is temporarily shelved until there are, you know, screens showing movies outside of our homes again, I’ll be occasionally delving into the less-visited reaches of the nation’s multitudinous, and suddenly essential, streaming services to bring back some lesser-known independent movies for you to enjoy when the fifth viewing of “Groundhog Day” makes you feel like you, too, are trapped, living the same day over and over again. And since this is our first trip into the streaming wilderness, it only seems smart to start out close to home with these Maine-made movies currently available in your chosen streaming package. 

A scene from the mystery film “Blow the Man Down” shot all over Harpswell and now streaming on Amazon Prime. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

“Blow the Man Down” (2019)

Written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, this darkly comic thriller (filmed in Harpswell) has been called “Maine’s ‘Fargo,’” for all the good and ill that implies. It’s the story of two young women whose bad night following the death of their mother in a small Maine fishing town involves a harpoon, a possible serial killer, dismemberment, a grocery bag of cash, the town’s seedy underbelly and a quartet of the most imperiously gossipy Maine matrons you’ll ever meet. They’re played by Hollywood doyens Margo Martindale (“Justified”), Annette O’Toole (“A Mighty Wind”), June Squibb (“Nebraska”) and Marceline Hugot (“30 Rock”), four seen-it-all Maine matriarchs who just about steal the movie. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: A whopping 99%. Streaming on Amazon Prime.

“Holly Star” (2018)

A Maine-set alternative to the usual raft of Hollywood holiday movies, this indie comedy was shot all over southern Maine (Biddeford, Saco, Kennebunk and Portland) and tells the story of a suddenly unemployed puppeteer (the winning Katlyn Carlson of “The Jim Gaffigan Show”) whose unwilling return to her Maine roots sees her half-remembering a possible childhood buried treasure. With the help of her still-loyal childhood bestie (Teya Patt, “Deadwood: The Movie”), the young woman embarks on a Maine-trotting hunt for the sack of money her Santa-playing grandfather may or may not have buried somewhere around town. 

Perfect for: Those who want their harmless Christmas movies with a little Maine charm. Streaming on Netflix.

Anabel Graetz in “Island Zero.” Photo courtesy of Mariah Klapatch

“Island Zero” (2017)

If “Blow The Man Down” looks at the quirky side of Maine bloodshed, this dark and effective thriller is pure, Down East nightmare fuel —especially for those Mainers on the islands. When the ferry stops coming one day, the locals of a fictitious midcoast isle (made up of scenes filmed in Camden, Rockport and Islesboro) get edgy. When the power goes out, the fish disappear, and when people start disappearing, they get crazy. Hollywood actress Laila Robbins (“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”) ably blends in with a lot of local talent in this Maine chiller written by Camden native (and “Rizzoli and Isles” creator) Tess Gerritsen.

Your alternative to: The endless scroll of Stephen King movies you watch and think, “The book was so much better.” Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hoopla. 

“Night of the Living Deb” (2015)

As the cheeky title might suggest, this Portland-shot horror comedy from Portland native Kyle Rankin has a decidedly less serious take on the whole zombie apocalypse genre. Starring the ever-watchable Maria Thayer (“Strangers With Candy”) as the titular Deb, a spunkily artsy Old Port type whose chipper adaptability to a sudden plague of the undead might just prove the world’s salvation. Or not. Co-starring Michael Cassidy (“People of Earth”) and the legendary Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” most of Rankin’s oeuvre). 

Rotten Tomatoes score: This Maine-made comic monstrosity is riding a solid 88%. Streaming on Amazon Prime, Hoopla and Shudder. 

“Black Rock” (2012)

Look, I don’t know why Maine seems to attract horror. Ask the aforementioned Mr. King. Anyway, this thriller, written by Milbridge native Katie Aselton and her husband/“The League” co-star Mark Duplass is a tight, nasty 83 minutes of tension and unexpected violence. Three estranged childhood friends (the always-compelling Aselton, joined by the equally good Lake Bell and Kate Bosworth) take a trip to the small Maine island (filmed on a real small Maine island) they once romped around as kids, only to run into some unsavory types in the idyllic woods there. If “Blow the Man Down” is Maine’s “Fargo,” “Black Rock” might be Maine’s all-female “Deliverance.”

Says Slate: “While this is very much a film about sisterhood, it’s also, like The Loneliest Planet, about the isolationism of survival, a theme perhaps symbolized by the solitary island locale.” Streaming on Hulu.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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