Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Anthony O'Brien's The Timber

Cody takes a rare break from the horrors of October to discuss a Western now available on DVD and Blu.

An atmospheric Western directed by Anthony O'Brien from a screenplay he wrote with Steve Allrich and Colin Ossiander, The Timber stars James Ransone and Josh Peck as brothers Wyatt and Samuel, who set off into a winter wilderness to track down a wanted criminal. If they can capture or kill this man, they'll earn the money needed to keep the bank from claiming their home. The twist is, the criminal is their own father, wanted for gunning down his partners in a mining venture gone bad.

When you take that premise and combine it with an 82 minute running time, you might expect The Timber to be non-stop thrills, but the film most certainly is not that. It has a leisurely pace and low-key characters who don't tend to speak much louder than a whispered mumble while information is delivered in a non-linear fashion. Even when action does flare up, it's not realized in a particularly exciting way. O'Brien doesn't seem to be all that interested in it.

I found O'Brien's approach to the material to be odd and unappealing, like the movie was always purposely keeping me at a distance. The story even races through things that might have allowed the audience to become more involved so it can get back to characters being introspective. It has arthouse aspirations at the expense of entertainment, and thus is not a very satisfying film to watch.

What the movie does have to offer is some gorgeous imagery of the snow-coated countryside, captured by cinematographer Phil Parmet, known to me for shooting such movies as The Devil's Rejects and Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween. Parmet has shot a Western before, J.T. Petty's horror/Western The Burrowers, but that was in quite a different climate, and he took full advantage of the beautiful sights the weather conditions provided on this one.

I didn't get much out of following The Timber's characters on their journey, but Parmet got some excellent footage out of it.

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