Reviewed by Robert Long II ©2009
Written and directed by Wayne Shipley
Starring Mark Redfield, Mike Hagan, Jennifer Rouse, Kelly Polchak, Richard Cutting, Jason Brown, Ellana Barksdale
Featuring Leanna Chamish, Robert Creager, Lee Doll, Brian Dragonuk, Barry Murphy, Jonathan Ruckman, Micci L. Samperi, George Stover
(Plot Summary from IMDb) Hadley, Missouri 1887. Justin Gatewood has recently been released from prison for attempting to kill an old adversary, William Curry. Twenty-five years earlier, Gatewood and his brother were Confederate prisoners-of-war, and the death of Gatewood’s brother under the watch of (then) Union Officer Curry has consumed Gatewood and fueled his desire for revenge. Free from jail, Gatewood discovers that Hadley and his world is changed, and that a “new order” of law and prosperity is now the battle cry of the people. His beautiful daughter, Helen has grown his business into a thriving concern and she makes her father promise that he’ll forget his past vendetta. Curry has a successful business and willful daughter of his own, and his main concern is for her safety, once it becomes known that Gatewood still wants him dead. As Justin Gatewood methodically hatches his plan for Curry’s utter destruction, the entire town is caught in the crossfire, but most tragically, so are the daughters of both men.
Now I want to make something clear up front; I was not raised on a diet of westerns as I grew up. I caught a few Clint Eastwood movies on television, but that is about it. I did watch “Wild, Wild West” with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin but to be honest that is as far from a “true” western as you can get. I think it has something to do with the color palette that was used in those movies; everything from the horses to the clothing to the buildings was usually done in a dry, muddy brown. As I am not usually drawn into a heavily sepia-toned look, that’s what kept me from films about the ol’ west.
While I deal in independent horror and science fiction films, this site is much more than just those two genres. I am willing to review indie dramas, comedies, action, westerns, etc., so I went into seeing this film with an open mind. It is also an independent film shot in Maryland, and I wanted to see just how they were going to pull this off on the East Coast. After viewing it, I came away loving the movie. It works because it is well written and very strong on character. The color pallete of this film goes through the full spectrum, not sitting on the laurels of sepia tone. There can be found lush greens, blues, reds, and gold that paint the mood of this picture. The production design is INCREDIBLE, considering this is a modest independent film. Director of Cinematography Jeff Herberger does an outstanding job of giving the proceedings on screen a cinematic, epic feel to them.
I have read a few negative reviews on both amazon and the IMDb for this movie, and that in itself left me puzzled. What’s not to like? It has all the ingredients that a Western fan should love. There are beautiful women, hunky men, eccentric characters, horses, shootouts, a bar fight, action, and a look and feel of authenticity. Certainly it has a cast of mostly unknowns, but this is a lower budget independent movie; you are not going to see Clint Eastwood in here. The actors all do a credible job and all of them come off believable. This film has an in-depth story and characters you can care about.
Perhaps those that have seen it in a negative light need to give it a second chance. Maybe they need to get away from their X-Boxes long enough to find out that entertainment can be more than mindless carnage and sex thrown at the viewer every five seconds. Regardless of what they say, I give this a very high rating and tell you that if nothing else, give it a rental from Netflix – it’s good. I’ve never owned a Western before, but I do now.