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With a budget of $5k dollars, how'd they get an actor the caliber of Adam Beach involved? That was the first itch I wanted to scratch. How'd they even get a working script for that? Had to be a college class project. Right? Hand-held camera, a mocumentary shot without a script on a lark, something like that. Blair Witch Project, grist for the fad mill maybe.
Still - Adam Beach? So I found a copy and watched. It surprised me - far from an embarrassment, the movie actually worked. As a story, it was stuffed full of every trope you could think of (what, they should "be original" on a $5k budget? really?) but it all jostled together in a way that made sense. Plus, there were some very well acted death scenes, and nicely played supporting parts, and at the end I had the weird feeling I'd just seen what happens when a spaghetti western meets Hamlet at Miller's Crossing. And I'm pretty sure that's the kind of feeling the makers wanted to leave.
Visually it was muddy, forgivable on that budget maybe, but I took off some points for not trying to correct it with high contrast development or something. The writing was full of familiar memes, sure. Call 'em clichés if you want to sneer. But the thing is, it entertained me when I expected it would put me to sleep. That's worth 5 points right there. Another point for the actors, who gave the material respect and pulled out some pretty intense moments as a result. A budget in the millions wouldn't have done what simple respect did. So a point for the actors, who not only knew to do that but then pulled it off.
Ultimately, I had fun watching it. That's worth another point by itself, so I just changed my rating from 6 to 7. It won't pull a Sundance Spirit Award but I've enjoyed megabuck movies a whole lot less. Recommended with popcorn and cheerful suspension of disbelief.
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