Freddy Beans, with a review of a southern backwoods thrill-ride of emotions titled, BULLITT COUNTY.
This one starts off with a 1977 reunion of old friends to celebrate Gordie's impending marriage. The reunion begins like all good ones do, with an actual kidnapping. Our fiance Gordie (Mike C. Nelson) is literally tied up and tossed unceremoniously in a trunk, to begin the reunion and finish their beer-hoping ways along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. You’d think kidnapping a Vietnam vet with PTSD isn’t in anyone’s best interests.
The friends: Robin (Jenni Melear), her boyfriend Keaton (David McCracken), and a quiet Brit named Wayne (Napoleon Ryan), who resembles a young Art Garfunkel, round out the main cast. They are set up for a bunch of early disappointments in the film. The old hole-in-the-wall beer spot is now a hoity-toity wine bar. Add the fact that Gordie is now on the wagon, unbeknownst to his old friends and the veneer starts to crack. Gordie goes full on tough guy with a poor sap that tries hitting on Robin and we learn their friendship hasn’t been touched for nearly a decade.
Gordie ends up on his own and learns the legend of “Bullitt treasure,” a bunch of unverified cash that’s supposedly buried in the woods. This sounds better than chasing drinks he doesn’t imbibe anymore, so he talks the others into spending the remaining reunion 'treasure huntin’.
They have fun searching but tire quickly and thankfully there’s a random old couple there to feed them in the cabin nearby. The cabin scenes are the most intense of the movie. Richard Riehle (CASINO) and Dorothy Lyman (BLOW) steal the show as they slowly reveal, that they’re aware of more than they let on. It all comes to a head and things go badly.
There’s no treasure, no trust and that’s on top of a decade of guilt.
Guilt handled in rough choppy flashbacks, which ultimately missed their mark.
That original trip ten years ago comes into play. Their apparent distance after has affected Gordie greatly. Thankfully, he’s nice enough to explain to them his hurt feelings by yelling it in their faces. The distance between them merely grows in response. Until it’s too much, then violence enters their camp. There’s even a sly story reveal at the end that works pretty well.
David McCracken’s sophomore feature film does bite off a little more than it can chew. David gets the most out of his actors though and they carry BULLITT COUNTY for the duration of the film. While Richard Riehle and Dorothy Lyman worked together like a well-oiled machine, or at least like an actual married couple. Mike C. Nelson (Gordie) steals the show, combining humor and creepy menace in almost every scene he is in.
The director deserves credit for his ambition. BULLITT COUNTY is an effective if off-kilter film. David McCracken has a nose for directing and his confidence shows. Sean McDaniel (cinematographer) does a great job behind the camera. Sean ends up finding elegance and beauty in the darkest moments. What these guys get out of a meager budget is something to behold.
I really liked visiting BULLITT COUNTY and think you will too!
Don’t forget to bring a shovel.
BULLITT COUNTY is available now. You can order it here.
7.5 out of 10 treasure seekers find hidden pot farms.
Til next time Kids
Ken Lewis (AKA: Freddy Beans)
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org