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Small Town Murder Songs (DVD Review)

15 Jun, 2011 By: Angelique Flores

Prebook 6/21/11; Street 7/19/11
Box Office $0.006 million
$26.95 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for some violence, disturbing images, a scene of sexuality, nudity and language.
Stars Peter Stormare, Martha Plimpton, Aaron Poole, Jill Hennessy.

Set in a small Canadian town, this murder drama is less a whodunit and more of a portrait of the man trying to get whodunit.

Walter is played mysteriously and almost unrecognizably by Peter Stormare (Fargo, Dancer in the Dark). He is a police officer with an unexplained violent history who has just been baptized a Mennonite and is trying to leave his past behind when a young woman is found dead by a local lake — the first murder investigation the town has seen in decades.

His ex-girlfriend Rita (Jill Hennessy) becomes involved in the investigation when her boyfriend, Steve, falls under suspicion for the crime.

The flashbacks of Walter’s violent past and the way he immediately zeroes in on Steve leaves it a bit ambiguous as to whether Steve really committed the murder or not. This seems intentional by the filmmakers, who left out a scene (which can be seen in the deleted scenes section of the DVD) that makes it clear that Walter has good reason to suspect Steve.

The pacing is slow, and the climax is somewhat anticlimactic. But justice is served, and the film ends on a satisfying note. Stormare is wonderful as always, though a bit creepy. But Hennessy is too attractive for this town of frumpy women and men with scraggly hair and rotted teeth.

The film is dark both in subject matter and lighting, giving off a sinister tone. Add to that the haunting and sometimes loud and frenetic gospel-folksy-bluegrassy original score by Bruce Peninsula that take you deeper into the feel of this small, eerie Canadian town with its strange characters.

In addition to the deleted scenes, the DVD includes a music video and download of the song “Steamroller” by Peninsula.

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