After his wife is captured by a cannibalistic tribe, Arthur and three other men set out to rescue her and the other captives.
I’d heard various things about the film last year, mostly about it being very brutal and very slow-paced. And it is, and it is quite wonderful.
The film is very slow-paced, but it is never boring. The first 2/3 of the film is almost a character drama (but not quite so deep) as we get to know our four man characters as they make their journey through the western desert landscape. Arthur already has a broken leg at the beginning of this journey, and Patrick Wilson (who I usually don’t like much) does a good job at expressing his persistence to find his wife. The other actors all inhabit their characters well too, really bringing them all to life and making them into characters who, even if we don’t like them, want to watch and see achieve their goal. This is also in part thanks to a really solid script. It’s a serious film, but has a dry sense of humour and doesn’t feel stilted like a normal western would, but doesn’t really feel cheesy either.
As I dislike overbearing scores, I really loved the use of minimal score here. It was never intruding and used only when needed. The cinematography was quite beautiful as well. It looked and felt unusual for a film that was so brutal and raw like this. But, along with the slowburn style, this made the brutality so much more effective. It never shied away from showing the violence, and similarly to how I felt about Sicario, it actually made these scenes disturbing to me – and I never feel disturbed about anything. It feels like these things are happening to real people, in a real world. Cutting away would be the cop-out, instead it makes us and experience it as if we were there too.
There wasn’t a strong enough connection for me to say it’s an all-time favourite of mine, but it’s a very good film. As a horror film, it’s a welcome change of style and as much as I love my cheesy horror comedies, I also love this kind of genre-mix that avoids conventions of the genre; leading us to one place, then doing a sharp turn into another area completely. The very end felt a little lackluster to me, but most of the negatives are only minor quibbles.