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The Slaughter Rule (2002)
A Poignant display of loss, recovery, and redemption.
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