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The Slaughter Rule (2002)

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A young man finds solace with a young woman, his mother, and a high-school football coach who recruits him to quarterback a six-man team.
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ryan Gosling ... Roy Chutney
David Morse ... Gideon Ferguson
Clea DuVall ... Skyla Sisco
David Cale ... Studebaker
Eddie Spears ... Tracy Two Dogs
Kelly Lynch ... Evangeline Chutney
Amy Adams ... Doreen
Ken White Ken White ... Russ Colfax
Noah Watts ... Waylon Walks Along
Kim DeLong Kim DeLong ... Lem Axelrod
Geraldine Keams ... Gretchen Two Dogs
Douglas Sebern ... Uncle Peyton
Cody Harvey Cody Harvey ... Coach Motlow
Melkon Andonian Melkon Andonian ... Devo
J.P. Gabriel J.P. Gabriel ... Jute


In Blue Springs, Montana, high school student Roy Chutney is beginning to lose his way in life largely the result of two simultaneous events. The first is that his father, Nelson Chutney, dies. Roy hadn't seen his father much since his parents divorced and his father remarried. Nelson was run over by a train, but Roy's mother, Evangeline Chutney, with who Roy has a somewhat emotionally distant relationship, believes he committed suicide. The second is that because funding to the school has reduced the football program to just a varsity team with no junior varsity, Roy, along with half the other players, is cut from the football squad, as his coach doesn't believe he is mentally tough enough despite he being a skilled player. The two incidents combined make the situation even worse for Roy as football was his primary connection to his father. Into Roy's life enters Gideon Ferguson, the local newspaper seller, who asks Roy to be part of his newly formed football team, which will play in... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual content | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 September 2002 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Drive to Dream See more »

Filming Locations:

Centerville, Montana, USA See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,461, 12 January 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Solaris See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Screenplay was developed in the Sundance Lab. See more »


Roy Chutney: My father told me if I was hard enough, I wouldn't break. He lied. Everything breaks.
See more »


Featured in The 2003 IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2003) See more »


The First Thing Broken
Written by Mike Ferrio
Performed by Tandy
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User Reviews

A Poignant display of loss, recovery, and redemption.
14 June 2002 | by goathaven1See all my reviews

The Slaughter Rule is one of the few unique films that captivates the viewer straight from the opening sequence. The film opens with a haunting shot, as twin brothers Alex and Andrew Smith take there camera through a barb-wire fence to reveal a helpless dying deer, literally struggling for its every last breath of life. Enter Roy Chutney, a high school student who is cut from the varsity football team just three days prior to losing his estranged father. Much like the deer, Roy never gives up in his struggle to live his life in wake of tragedy, even after losing just about everything that held meaning in his young adulthood. Roy is eventually approached by the local paper distributor Gideon (played with remarkable passion and sustain by the brilliant David Morse). Gideon asks Roy to join his roughneck 6-man football team. Upon joining, Roy is taken under Gideon's wing and must eventually confront the small-town rumors that linger regarding Gideons sexuality, and turbulent past. The Slaughter Rule is unlike any high school football movie ever made. First of all, the film omits any of the standard hallway and classroom scenes that frequent every other film of the genre, It also discards the glorified high school football stadiums that almost give the impression they could be home to the next super bowl. Instead the scenes in this film are mainly set in country bars, private bedrooms, and cold icy fields, where the viewer can almost feel themselves being slammed into the frozen tundra alongside the players themselves. Where most football movies feature strong, good-looking, "prom king" type players, The Slaughter Rule uses gritty, "normal-looking" kids, that could easily be seen tossing the pigskin around in any small middle American town. Eric Edwards stunning cinematography, and alt/country musician Jay Farrar's folk influenced score, help make The Slaughter Rule one of the most promising directorial debuts in recent years, and was by far the best film I saw at the 2002 Lake Placid Film Festival. I strongly urge anyone who has ever experienced loss from death or rejection, to watch this film. For those of you who have not, pull that letterman jacket out of the closet and rent Varsity Blues.

Jesse Haven is a 19 year old film student from Burlington, Vermont Questions or comments?? Email me

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