Film Festivals

TIFF 2018: The Standoff at Sparrow Creek Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis: A former cop-turned-militia man investigates a shooting at a police funeral. (IMDB)

Starring: James Badge Dale, Patrick Fischler, and Brian Geraghty

Writer: Henry Dunham

Director: Henry Dunham

Rating: n/a

Running Time: 88mins

Trailer: n/a

Henry Dunham’s debut feature is a far cry from what we have come to expect from the Midnight Madness programme. It borrows elements of the “mumblecore” film movement and heightens low-budget filmmaking out of the bottomless pit it has seemed to be stuck in recently. All of our lead actors are firing on all cylinders, as they spiral downwards into a paranoid and vulnerable mental state. The altercations which they eventually are confronted with provide quite a few mesmerizing moments of captivating tension.

Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is a very strong and obvious reference here, almost to the point where it feels like Dunham is installing his ideas into Tarantino’s script and executing them from there. This could eventually lead others to experience a lack of tension/stakes for almost everything occurring in the overall narrative. Dunham just can’t seem to capture the same aggressive tone and mood that his inspiration succeeded at accomplishing 25-some years back, though it’s not for a lack of trying.

It’s very clear that the man has a story and narrative he would like to tell but the final result isn’t as potent as he would’ve hoped for. It’s one of those flicks that you forget about almost instantaneously after leaving the cinema. It’s commentary on persuasion via tragedies and modern-day gun violence does create a possible debate, or hopefully a thesis statement for a sophomore feature where he elaborates on these themes. As of right now? This one could’ve been a bit better if there was more character exploration and if the narrative wasn’t afraid to abide by or experiment with some of its own rules/formats. It’s a fun and fairly enjoyable 90-minutes, nothing more, nothing less.

Score: 6/10

Follow me on twitter @ScangaBen and on letterboxd @theccritic.

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