The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Dawn Rider (2012)
I've been looking to get more Christian Slater DTV flicks up here, and I saw that this one was about to be clipped from Instant. It also has Donald Sutherland, who starred with Slater in Assassin's Bullet, so it was interesting to see them team up again; and Jill Hennessy, who I liked from Crossing Jordan and Law and Order. Plus, it's a Western. All of these things had me intrigued.
Dawn Rider stars Slater as a gunslinger who returns home to a frontier town in Wyoming to visit his father. When his father is killed by robbers, Slater swears vengeance, but he's shot too and needs to recoup. Hennessy nurses him back to good health, while her brother, Lochlyn Munro tells him about how their family ranch is going to be foreclosed on. Slater offers to help, but what he doesn't know is that Munro has his own source of income on the side. While all this is happening, Sutherland is a marshal in town to collect a bounty on Slater's head. It's just all kinds of craziness.
This wasn't bad. It had some slow parts, but Slater is so good in the lead that he mitigates those; plus Sutherland, Hennessy, and Munro are all good as well. They seem to understand how a Western works, and they embrace it. This also had the tense gunslinging moments you want in a good Western, with the duels and the standoffs. I liked the modern connection to our current economy too, and people losing their land and livelihood and trying to find a way to make ends meet. All around I think this is pretty good, and worth checking out.
Slater's DTV stuff has been really good, and this is no exception. He's great as that charismatic maverick gunslinger Western lead. He's got great one-liners, and exudes that confidence that says "whatever problem comes up, I'll take care of it." We've seen him do so many roles here, from priests, to gangsters, to former FBI agents, and now he's a gunslinger. Who knows what he'll do next, but based on what we've seen so far it'll be worth checking out.
Yes, that's Donald Sutherland. No, he's not playing Santa. Who knows why they made him look like that. He was cool as the marshal, though he doesn't have that many scenes. He's kind of a dirty old man, but an understated one, which was funny. The idea of him actually being Santa would've been awesome though. "I needed to find something to do in the summer, so I make extra cash working as a marshal for the US government. Ho ho ho, I'm bringing you in dead or alive!"
Jill Hennessy was perfect too as the female lead and Slater's love interest. Her voice and demeanor are the perfect combination of down-to-earth country strength and femininity that made her role great. And she and Slater had great chemistry too, which made their scenes together pop even more. Lochlyn Munro played her brother and Slater's old friend. He's always great as a guy with ulterior motives that you can't trust, but he also had that added gunslinger element you want here too. Like I said above, everybody got what this movie was about, and they made it work.
The Western as a genre isn't one we get on here often (this is only our tenth out of over 900 films), and seldom do we see it done well in a DTV format. Sometimes it's problematic, sometimes it's just too slow, and sometimes it's just a mess and all over the place. While this one had some pacing issues, it did get to the heart of what I want out of a Western: a real charismatic lead and some great gun fights. Sometimes that's all you need, yet so few film makers realize that.
But this one did, and as a result it worked. It looks like after it's clipped from Instant, DVD will be the only way to go, or maybe it'll be on cable. If you're looking for a RedBox rental, you could do a lot worse than this.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2014202/