Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Drawing ecstatic comparisons with the Coen brothers’ work at its noirish best, Jamie M. Dagg’s tense drama pits former rodeo star Sam (Jon Bernthal, The Walking Dead), now the proprietor of a motel in a small Alaskan town, against the stone-cold killer, Elwood (Christopher Abbott, Girls), hired by the embittered Lila (Imogen Poots, nailing the role of the femme fatale) to knock off her husband, something Elwood does spectacularly in the opening scene. In the process, however, he also takes out a couple of others, and it’s this collateral damage that sets the stage for the black-hearted intrigue that follows… Dagg’s expert blending of neo-noir and modern-Western tropes, superb acting on the part of the three leads and cinematographer Jessica Gagné’s dark palette make this suspenseful tale gripping from frame one until the credits roll.
"More than great… Benjamin and Paul China’s script yields one of the gnarliest and most unsettling movies we’re likely to get this year… Much of the movie’s potency comes from the way it withholds certain information until just the right moment, and how the combination of several seemingly contradictory brushstrokes can render a character we perceived one way in a completely new light… Even though the sense of menace grows so oppressive at times that you can hardly breathe for minutes on end, it’s the characters’ ever-evolving inner mechanics that fuel our engagement."—Peter Debruge, Variety