I watched this film late one night when my wife was a way for the weekend, and I didn't know how to end the day.
This was an impressive film.
For the most part this is a conventional Western. Set in the mid-west in a little town called Bright Hope. It begins with an attack on the small town by a group of savage cave dwellers. They are presented to us as a mysterious species human. There's the killing a young stable boy and the abduction of two or three townspeople including a deputy sheriff - Nick and the doctor's wife, Samantha, played by Lili Simmons.
When her injured husband Arthur - played by Patrick Wilson finds out about her abduction he immediately starts out to get her back. So a small posse - made up of Sheriff Hunt - Kurt Russell, John Brooder played by Matthew Fox and Chicory - Richard Jenkins, - sets out on a five day trek across scrub land and desert to bring her and the others back.
Despite the conventional plot - of white woman and innocents, abducted by strangers - it is the writing that really appealed to me. The dialogue and the attention to character and the development of the relationships between the posse that really made this film special. From Arthur's simple Christian faith and single minded determination to rescue his wife, Brooder the fearless, maverick gunslinger, the Sheriff - plain speaking, responsible and honourable, and finally Chicory - an old deputy - his dead pan humour, he's completely loyal and determined to do the right thing.
There is a quiet, natural and unassuming quality to the writing that really impressed me.
Apparently the writer / director rejected all attempts by studios to accept the film on the basis of changing the script. All praise therefore goes to S. Craig Zahler for his uncompromising position.
However visually the film contains probably the most shocking act of on screen violence I've ever seen. Thankfully it is only one short scene lasting 20 seconds. But it continues to be disturbing every time I think about it. This is where the second film genre takes over - briefly yet successfully for being so brief. Horror.
Finally what struck me was the ending. The survivors of this encounter with unspeakable horror are the most unlikely characters.
This is a film that should have gained - given its great character actors and first class acting - a much wider audience. Kurt Russell is incredible I think.
Anyway if you don't believe me read this review of the film in the Daily Telegraph
I still couldn't end the day after watching this and stayed up a further 2 hours. I might post to this blog the results of that experience if I have time.