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Ayla is a moody, atmospheric, and hauntingly beautiful film about love and loss — and the pain that grows from deep within until it’s all consuming

AylaAyla is about a man who is haunt­ed by the death of his 4 year old sis­ter thir­ty years ago. Still grief strick­en all these years lat­er, he mys­te­ri­ous­ly brings her back to life with dire con­se­quences.

From the begin­ning, Ayla feels like a film tak­ing place in a neglect­ed world. Every­thing is sad, run down and tired feel­ing. There are shots of ragged, dog-eared books, spi­der webs in cor­ners and dilap­i­dat­ed hous­es. There are peo­ple on screen talk­ing, and we can’t hear them.


It’s an emp­ty, lone­ly and drea­ry tone that won­der­ful­ly mir­rors the life of the main char­ac­ter, Elton (Nicholas Wilder). Thir­ty years after his sister’s death he remains deeply haunt­ed by the loss, and the film’s atmos­phere reflects that.

An effec­tive­ly, slight­ly grainy look coats the pic­ture, offer­ing anoth­er lay­er of atmos­phere. Like the char­ac­ter of Elton, the world of the film has lost its lus­ter, lost its shine. It’s an unset­tling place, but the deep Earth tones reveal a beau­ty that still exists among the hope­less­ness. And it’s from the Earth that Elton is able to bring his sis­ter back to life as she lit­er­al­ly comes from the ground from the roots of an old, giant tree.

Every piano note, every drawn out syn­the­siz­er note, is the con­stant, oth­er­world­ly score inside Elton’s head. Every tor­tured and long­ing minute is expert­ly giv­en sound. Life has been toy­ing with Elton, and he’s had enough.

Ayla is a film full of an edgy, dan­ger­ous sad­ness.

It’s a tough film to sit through because of that, but it won’t leave your mind any­time soon. Even with its more awk­ward, inces­tu­ous moments, the film haunt­ed me like Ayla’s death haunt­ed her broth­er.

As for Ayla, Tris­tan Risk is sim­ply breath­tak­ing. Watch­ing her face and move­ments take in the world for the first time after her mys­te­ri­ous re-birth is a won­der­ful thing to watch. She is per­fect for this role. The way she stands and stares has a hol­low and eerie still­ness, which stands in con­trast with her nat­u­ral­ly wild beau­ty. She’s as as mys­te­ri­ous as her character’s return and she absolute­ly nails it in this film.

Ayla is a some­times uncom­fort­able, but ulti­mate­ly beau­ti­ful sto­ry.

The film is 80% atmos­phere, with just enough char­ac­ter to cre­ate an intrigu­ing and thought­ful sto­ry. Among the cast is Dee Wal­lace in her clas­sic, moth­er­ly role and Bill Oberst, Jr. in a very Bill Oberst, Jr. dual role appear­ance that is a high­light of the film. With a hint of super­nat­ur­al touch­es, Ayla is an inter­est­ing, deeply sad and beau­ti­ful film.

If you’re big on atmos­phere and feel­ing, check it out, but know that Ayla is a deep film that doesn’t give the view­er all the answers. It’s a deep film that requires patience and an open mind.

Ayla will soon be hitting the festival circuit. Be sure to stay tuned to the film’s Facebook page for the latest updates and information on when and where you can catch it. 

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