Thursday, October 20, 2011

Texas Killing Fields; A Rambling Review

My free movie trend was slower then usual this week. I only had a free pass from the Facebook version of, Buzzbo Phoenix. It was for the Texas Killing Fields and I was not sure I would make it in time to get a free flick considering they just posted it for anyone on Facebook to download and print off. I arrived later then normal but I had plenty of seats to choose from, not many people came. I think it might have something to do with the title being Texas Killing Fields. Every one hears that title and immediately assumes it is some trashy horror flick but it is a cop story. Combine the misled belief, that it is a horror flick, with the fact that this is the month of October and people did not pay much attention. Which was good for my late arrival but probably not good for their sales numbers. This review is going to sound bad and I feel bad about that but it is mainly because it is kind of bad. I want to let you know that through out the whole thing I could not help but be curious about these characters which is a positive. It was a very good base to build upon but it needs the details filled in. Without the details for the other story lines, that it drops everywhere, we are left with a very simple story that we already know the outcome of. I wanted to like this movie but I kept finding myself thinking that the movie was never going to end, which is not a good thing when it is only about an hour and 45 minutes long. So I have mixed emotions, I want to like it but I keep discovering holes in the story and plot as I keep thinking about it. So I guess I have to say that I did not like it and wish that they had shown it to me earlier so I could have suggested some changes be made. Unfortunately that is not going to happen, but here is a review of Texas Killing Fields.

The movie is set in and around Texas City, TX and is based on a real story. Actually, the movie states that it was inspired by a true story, which leads me to believe it is not as "true story" as they want you to believe. I may be wrong...

The story opens up with a shot of a swampy, marsh area and an abandoned car with the doors thrown wide. Then we get introduced to our 3 main players, two of which are cops. One is named Mike and the other's name escapes me, funny that I remember the character with my name. I just looked it up and discovered the other cop's name is Brian. The third character is a 14-ish girl named Anne. This girl played a vampire in Let Me In which was the American remake of Let the Right One In, which are both good movies although my preferred version is the original one. The girl is alone at a gas station and seems to have nothing to do and the 2 cops are at a homicide crime scene. Later on, after they have left the dead body behind, the cops stop and talk to her as she wanders the street and we find out this girl is on probation (which never gets explained and this lack of information is still bothering me) and has a drug addicted and a prostitute for a mom. They drive the girl, who they know from prior experiences (that are never explained either), to her home where we meet a group of guys and the mom. We find out later that one of the guys that files out is this girl's brother but it was not clear to me during the scene. My focus was on Mike, who is in the process of staring down some smarmy guy. The creepy guy seems to accept the proffered challenge but no fists fly and not a whole lot of words are exchanged. They leave the home and those at the home are now a bit more tense and you are now twice as worried about this poor girl. When they are driving away we get introduced to a 4th character who I would dub lead supporting character. She is another police officer from a neighboring district, named Pam, and she is calling for Brian and during the conversation we learn she is the ex of Mike (once again a piece of interesting information that never gets explored). She has found the car we saw in the opening scene and she wants help form Brian but Mike is adamant that he shouldn't help her. He follows his partner's advice (kind of) and says when she finds the body to call him. What was weird was that after this conversation she gets to the car and starts hollering at people. Why would she call for help on a case before their really is a case? Why would she call that quickly anyway? Is she the only cop in her district? It certainly doesn't look like that when we see her station the next day. We get treated to a scene where she is beating up some guy and asking him about his visits with women. We do not ever see this guy again and she never gets called on assaulting him. We do get treated to Mike showing up and telling her that her request for Brian ended up with her working with him instead. Except she hasn't found a body so why did she make the call? As I write this I realize that I am just getting more and more dissatisfied, this was not a good movie. Meanwhile, the other case has some starring candidates for the first murder. There seems to be a pimp involved with the dead girl and he has a crazy Nazi tattooed friend. This was a weird pairing because the pimp was a big, giant black guy and he was hanging with the creepy, also giant, Nazi tattoo guy. Anyway they are guilty of something if not all. The movie contains more verbal exchanges, another cop assault (Brian hits a guy), a car chase, a shootout and a stabbing. The one thing I have to question is the one near rape of a lady who is home with her daughter, it seems like a stupid scene and we never see her again after the scene ends. So we are treated to a traumatic scene for no clear reason. I have no idea why it was in there, it was not needed and only helped muddy the water.  There are a few scenes that aren't explained as well as a few random characters (including Brian's wife and family). A lot of the movie's characters were not explained and their issues were not explored and I found that had this been done that this would be a good movie. With it not done it is basically a slightly boring movie with good actors in it.

As far as the direction of the movie, I found a lot of the shots looked crappy and kind of low budget. There are several points where their are black screens while the scene changes. There are often weird edits and cuts that make you think someone was showing off recently learned editing skills. A lot of these things occurred to me as  I watched the movie and I do not claim to be an expert in the art of movie directing. If these things caught my eye, being a film making novice, then it makes me wonder what a more tenured film professional saw. The worst part was all the fancy editing actually only seemed to make me aware of time passing. It made me come out of the movie completely and wonder when it was all going to end. The worst part was that it's weird slapped together and disorganized feel made me think that it was a very early version of the film and that edits will be made. Which would be fine except that the movie came out in some theaters last week and I am assuming that it is due out in more theaters soon. If you have to see this movie make sure you rent it and that you don't pay more then a buck or a netflix monthly subscription to do so.


Dale said...

Not planning on seeing the movie now thanks to you.

Michael Williams said...

Glad to see that I helped one reader!