(director/writer: JT Mollner; cinematographer: Matthew Irving; editor: Christopher Robin Bell; music: Colin Stetson, Aleks De Carvalho; cast: Chad Michael Murray (Henry), Francesca Eastwood (Florence Tildon), Madisen Beaty (Charlotte Tildon), Ben Browder (George Tildon), Francis Fisher(Esther), Marty Lindsey (Sam), Lela Rose Allen (Lulu), Keith Loneker (Little Joe), Steven Michael Quezada (Alonzo), Nathan Russell (Charles), Luke Wilson (Josiah), Teri Polo (Ada Tildon); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: R; producer: JT Mollner/Rosanne Korenberg/Chris Ivan Cevic/Luke Daniels; Orion/Momentum Pictures (Burnt Pictures); 2016)
A nasty macabre cult Western.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The debut feature by JT Mollner leaves much to be desired. He directs and writes it as a nasty macabre cult Western. It has a limited theater release, and is on VOD. The low-budget indie offers a different type of Western to the viewer who might be looking for a change of pace from the norm. In 1887, in Cuchillo, N.M., a bank is robbed by 5 outlaws and a government official and a pretty prostitute pedestrian are killed. A posse made up of bounty hunters, led by the relentless Josiah (Luke Wilson) and the loyal Alonzo (Steven Michael Quezada), pursue, motivated by a big reward. One of the outlaws is shot escaping on horse and another dies from exhaustion on the harsh desert trail. That leaves the outlaws with their gruff leader Henry (Chad Michael Murray), the fat man dimwit Little Joe (Keith Loneker), and the bloodthirsty Charlie (Nathan Russell). The outlaws kill two friendlies (Francis Fisher & Marty Lindsey) so they won’t be tempted to turn them in for the reward and head for the Mexican border. They must abandon their horses because of the rough terrain. Eventually the starving fugitives spot an isolated farmhouse and overtake the unhappy religious Tildon family. The patriarch is the hypocritical preacher George (Ben Browder), his wife is the fanatical Christian Ada (Teri Polo), and their miserable teeenage daughters are Charlotte (Madisen Beaty) and the vengeful younger 15-year-old Florence (Francesca Eastwood, daughter of Clint and Frances Fisher). The girls are always squabbling with each other, with Charlotte bullying Florence. In the home invasion the louts heighten the tension over sex, as each outlaw picks out a woman to rape. The subject matter is unpleasant and the narrative has too many ponderous moments that seem to go on forever. The vile Western brings sex into its story as a moralizing gesture, which rarely was done in those familiar popular Westerns from the past. The revolting sex scenes leading to a bloodbath revenge scene, would be a welcome addition to the genre if Mollner had something significant to say about frontier life.

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