BLOOD ON HER NAME
(director/writer: Matthew Pope; screenwriter: Don M. Thompson; cinematographer: Matthew Rogers; editor: M.R. Boxley; music: Brooke Blair, Will Blair; cast: Bethany Anne Lind (Leigh Tiller), Will Patton (Richard Tiller), Jimmy Gonzales (Reynoso Dias), Jared Ivers (Ryan Tiller), Jack Andrews (Travis), Elisabeth Rohm (Dani Wilson); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Matthew Pope/Don M. Thompson; Yellow Veil Pictures; 2019)
“Lind’s strong visceral performance lifts the neo-noir film off the mat and gives us an eerie look at a doomed woman. “
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An intense crime drama about working-class folks, with a shout out for choosing what is morally ‘right.’ The well-executed and tense film is the debut feature from writer-director Matthew Pope, whose other films were short videos. It’s co-written with a jaundiced look at the meaning of family love by Don M. Thompson.
Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) is an auto mechanic who runs a financially struggling auto repair shop owned by her imprisoned husband, in a rural Southern small-town. She has blood on her after a fatal incident in the shop, that looks like a fight occurred but the incident was not seen by the viewer. There’s a pool of blood and a bloody wrench on the floor. Instead of calling the police, Leigh panics and decides to get rid of the male body and cover-up the bloody mess.
Her teenage son Ryan (Jared Ivers), who might have been at the workplace, is a troubled youth seeing a parole officer to regularly pee in a cup over his drug problem. Mom also is a drug user.
Leigh’s estranged widowed dad, Richard Tiller (Will Patton), is the town’s gruff and crooked sheriff. He is someone she had problems with as a child, and he will be the one investigating when the dead man’s body is located. Her only friend is the underpaid auto mechanic, Reynoso Dias (Jimmy Gonzales), who is too honest to be asked to dispose of bodies but is anxious to help the nervous boss in a way he could feel comfortable.
After Leigh loads the dead man onto a boat and is set to toss him into the lake, his cellphone rings with voicemail from his worried son because dad didn’t come home last night. The bitter but fragile Leigh is not a criminal and a sense of decency overcomes her. So she doesn’t go through with tossing him overboard. What she does instead is leave the body in his shed, where it can easily be found, as the police can now trace the body back to her.
When the dead man’s wife (Elisabeth Röhm) becomes aware of his passing, things get even messier for her.
Leigh spends the entire film lying and trying to cover-up her involvement with the dead man, as we find out what happened in bits and pieces and must digest the troubled woman’s lies while trying to understand her. We are helped by penetrating flashbacks of her past. It leads to an intense conclusion.
Lind’s strong visceral performance lifts the neo-noir film off the mat and gives us an eerie look at a doomed woman.
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2020 GRADE: B