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Is Rust Creek a True Story? Is the 2018 Movie Based on Real Life?


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‘Rust Creek’ is an indie crime thriller film that follows Sawyer Scott, a college senior who lands a job interview around Thanksgiving. To avoid traffic on the highway, she takes a detour that leads her deep into the Appalachian forest. She eventually crosses paths with Hollister and Buck, two brothers who are local criminals. Since they think that she has seen them bury a body, they try to get rid of her, but she fights back.

Although Sawyer is able to escape from them temporarily, she is injured and has no resources at her disposal. Later, their meth-producing cousin, Lowell, also enters the picture and forms an unlikely alliance with the girl. The movie then explores if she can outsmart her attackers to ensure her survival. Somehow, such thrillers become more inherently petrifying when they are based on real accounts. Is the same the case with ‘Rust Creek’? Let’s find out. 

Is Rust Creek Based on a True Story?

Yes, ‘Rust Creek’ is based on a true story. It all started when Stu Pollard, the producer, was 22 – “I took off in my car to drive back home but didn’t tell anyone where I was going or to expect me. I drove into a terrible snowstorm in Maryland and realized no one had any idea where I was. It was a wake-up moment. For the first time I realized my own mortality.” (You can watch him narrate the story, just skip to 6:43).

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The producer stated, “It’s that moment in time where you’re a young person and you think you’re invincible, but then, you have that reality check and realize you’re not. You have that paradigm shift in those situations where you realize there are certain things in life that might be more important than what you first thought of when you hopped in the car and didn’t tell anyone where you were going.” Fortunately, Pollard was not subjected to the intense conditions and lack of resources that the protagonist is.

However, it was a unique experience for him, and needless to say, he would revisit it from time to time. Eventually, he went to the film’s screenwriter, Julie Lipson, and translated his story onto the big screen. The writer added, “It was really exciting to set the whole script outside in the woods, in an environment that I could actually play with and make those environmental cues part of the movie and part of her arc. Because I always thought of Sawyer as somebody who is very invested in the material world.”

Pollard has previously described the film as either a thriller with drama elements or a drama with thriller elements. This is, perhaps, one of the aptest descriptions of the plot as well. Sawyer is not someone who accepts her predicament easily; she fights the brothers even though she gets stabbed in the leg by Buck. Later, she attacks Lowell with lye, thereby injuring him, before eventually becoming friends with him and cooking a batch of meth as well.

Obviously, when it comes to ensuring one’s survival, all rules are thrown out of the window. It takes just one moment for the tide to turn against you. This tension is maintained throughout the movie as well. Interestingly, Pollard returned home to Kentucky for shooting purposes as well. He explained, “Setting is so important in this film that it almost becomes a character of its own.”

Apart from this, the story definitely makes you question what you would have done if you were in Sawyer’s place. After all, women’s safety is such a cause of concern today, and not all of us out there are well equipped to deal with such a situation. (Fortunately, there is a guide on the film’s official website that you can check out!) Furthermore, it also makes you realize how dependent we, as a generation, are on technology. With nothing at our disposal, would we have lasted as long as Sawyer did? 

Read More: Where Was Rust Creek Filmed?

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