(director/writer: Naveen A. Chathapuram; screenwriters: Ashley James Louis/Doc Justin & Naveen A. Chathapuram; cinematographer: Lukasz Pruchnik; editor: John Chimples; music: Darren Morze; cast: Camille Legg (Deputy Gaboon), Ron Perlman (Sheriff Hickey), Paul Belsito (Snoopy), Matt Brown (Monroe), Tahmoh Penikett (Richard Orden), Kit Sheehan (voice – Glenda Hickey), Tom Stevens (Manny), Ralph Ineson (Jake), Ali Larter (Susan), Kyle Schmid (Bull), Dakota Dalby (Tad); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Vicky Gong, Shaun Sanghani, Todd Berger, Naveen A. Chathapuram, Graem Luis, Nicholas Burnett, Luke Daniels, Joseph Lanius, Charles Leslie, Frank Li; Decal; 2021)

“In its quest for some kind of gravitas it states that even iguanas may have souls.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Naveen A. Chathapuram’s first film as a director is this cheesy B-film that can’t stop from being so confusing. It’s an action-packed Coen Brothers inspired comedy/neo-western, that misfires as it aims to be a No Country For Bad Man ripoff. It’s based on a story by Doc Justin & Naveen A. Chathapuram, and is written by Chathapuram and Ashley James Louis.

The gruff veteran Sheriff Hickey (Ron Perlman) works in the dusty small town in New Mexico of Negacion, where in the opening a grisly series of murders take place. The ruthless gang leader Jake (Ralph Ineson) settles an old score as he murders a number of folks in a roadside barbecue diner and flees into the New Mexico desert to bury them in an abandoned nature preserve, leaving behind only a severed finger. Thereby the sheriff, a lazy dude, pursues with his nerdy young female deputy, Mindy Gaboon (Camille Legg), as they search numerous small towns and talk some funny shit along the way, with him bad-mouthing her and getting his rocks off. The sheriff also tells Mindy he remains in this forlorn town because it was once a town that mattered and he can’t let go of that memory.

Meanwhile the anthropologist Susan (Ali Larter) and her husband Richard (Tahmoh Penikett) are on a cross-country trip before she takes a college job out West, but end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and her husband is slain in the desert by the gang when the couple witnesses their burial detail. But she escapes into the woods and the bad guys follow, as she fights back.

There’s an annoying voiceover, a pace that is too slow during its mid-section and a tacked-on surreal anti-climax to its survival story (with an out of place peyote scene and a feel-good unmerited happy ending that all but ruins the film with its twisty ending that makes no sense.

In its quest for some kind of gravitas it states that even iguanas may have souls.

REVIEWED ON 6/24/2022  GRADE: C+