In the Southern Gothic coming-of-age tale Moss, an isolated and troubled young man, Moss (Mitchell Slaggert), meets a mysterious and beautiful hiker on the banks of the river near his home on his eighteenth birthday.
She guides him on a journey of self-discovery and helps him overcome the tragic death of his mother and the shadow it has cast on his relationship with his detached father.
Today is Moss’s eighteenth birthday. But there is little to celebrate, as the day is just a reminder that his mother died delivering him. His Dad an outsider-artist is detached and distant. He spends all his time making eerie sculptures fashioned from river wash-up. Dad hasn’t even remembered it is his son’s special day and instead tasks him with a visit to Gramma to deliver her some pills. This is a dreaded chore. It will take all day to get there because she’s so far down river. Dad and Moss get into a fight but Moss finally sets off in his canoe.
First he visits his only good friend, Blaze who lives alone on a rafthouse cobbled together from buckets and crates. A runaway from a meth-infected family, Blaze has found his peace living solo off-the-grid. Moss and Blaze smoke weed and shoot the shit.
When Moss carries on down the river, he’s met with the surprise of his life—a mysterious beautiful woman has set up camp on the riverbank.
Their eyes meet across the lapping water and soon they are sharing a meal by her campfire. Mary is a drifter ten years older than Moss and an experienced free-spirit. Moss has never met a woman like this. When she learns it’s his birthday she offers a special treat– psychedelic mushrooms!
Together they trip and make there way to the beach. Under the sway of the ‘shrooms, Moss’s barriers collapse and he starts to unravel his painful past. Mary is a good listener. She’s captivated by his naïveté and isolation. She knows what to say to help him. In an abandoned WWII bunker hidden in the dunes, they have sex. It’s Moss’s first-time. But afterwards the day turns heavy. Mary is in over her head and she leaves him saying she needs to be alone.
Moss is gutted. An empty bottle of whiskey later, Moss makes his peace with the devil-may-care day when he crashes at Blaze’s.
Meanwhile Dad has been brooding. He cools off from his fight with Moss by collecting driftwood and returns home to hole up in his studio as usual. But the house is a wreck and he decides to clean up instead. Tidying Moss’s bedroom, he finds a doodle Moss did as a toddler saying “I miss you mommy. I love you Daddy.” Ray is touched and disappointed in himself for not acknowledging his son’s special day. He goes and buys Moss a gift and some take-away dinner. But by nightfall Moss still has not returned and Dad’s head is spinning with memories and moonshine. He waits for Moss and drinks alone. Then in a fit of clarity, he makes a huge bonfire and burns a driftwood barrier he’d built around the house.
The next morning, Moss rushes from Blaze’s to his Grammas – spurred on by a foreboding dream and a surge of guilt.
But when he arrives, she’s dead. On the kitchen table is a cake she had waiting for him. Moss has reached his breaking point, he struggles to process the loss and grieves alone on Gramma’s porch. This was the woman who helped raise him.
Then he sees a strange sign that someone has been there before him. Was it Mary? What did she want? His grief turns to suspicion and rage and he runs like the wind to her campsite, but there’s no trace of her. She’s long gone. Moss just sits there catching his breath. He watches the river ebb and flow. It speaks to him and he realizes he simply must “let it all go.”
Covered in mud, Moss arrives home transformed. He finds the yard purged of the barrier, the house clean and a birthday present from his dad. A note says: “Gone fishing. Come.”
At the end of the long fishing pier, Moss meets his Dad to tell him everything. But his Dad has changed overnight. He too has released some suffering. And the news of Gramma’s death comes as something of a relief. “At least she’s not in pain anymore,” Dad says.
The two men stare at the churning ocean together. They still have each other.
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