Title: Texas Killing Fields
So They Caught The Guy? No spoilers, please.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half bottles of Milk of Magnesia out of five.
Brief Plot Synosis: Sweaty detectives race against time to rescue a girl kidnapped by a serial killer given to dumping his victims in a local swamp.
Did You Really Just Say "Race Against Time?" Don't you judge me
Tagline: "Once in...there's no way out."
Better Tagline: "Being young, poor and female sucks."
What's The Biggest Inaccuracy In The Film? That guys in suits drive around southeast Texas in summer with the windows down.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Texas homicide detectivse Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) and New York trasnplant Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are at odds over investigating a series of murders technically out of their jurisdiction. Heigh persists in looking into them, causing the killer to turn his attentions on the detectives, culminating in the kidnapping of a local girl Souder and Heigh must now try to save.
A Little History: Since 1971, dozens of women and girls have been murdered or gone missing from an area roughly centered around the stretch of I-45 from Houston to Galveston. As anyone in the area knows, the transition from bustling metropolis to relatively remote marhsland is abrupt, and the stretch of freeway from Houston to Galveston crosses many different jurisdictions. The movie's title refers to a field off Calder Drive in League City where four of the victims' bodies were discovered.
Real life Texas City cops Brian Goetschius and Mike Land are the basis for detectives Souder and Heigh, while "Little" Anne Sliger (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a composite of young girls screenwriter Don Ferrarone met and read about. The movie doesn't purport to solve the mystery of the I-45 murders, but is an admitted hybrid of several local cases. Having said that...
"Critical" Analysis: I wanted to like TKF more than I ultimately did. The idea of Ferrarone becoming so moved by billboards seeking to identify remains of those left in the fields that he wrote a screenplay about it is a compelling one. And I have a soft spot for low budget films striving to tell a bigger story.
But Texas Killing Fields is just too disjointed to be an effective thriller. I won't fault director Ami Mann (not the singer, the daughter of Heat director Michael) so much as I will whoever edited this (Cindy Mollo, I looked it up), because little to no effort it made to string together a cohesive story. Scenes follow each other with almost no narrative connection, to the point where it's sometimes difficult to tell where the action is taking place.
And for a story that should really be compelling in its horror, the whole affair plays a lot like a prime time TV crime procedural. This is a movie about a cunning serial killer using an area's natural remoteness to commit unspeakable acts, yet we keep hitting the same story marks you'd find in an episode of Criminal Minds, except everyone says "fuck."
And much as I hate to do it, a serial killer pic "inspired by true events" should really be more harrowing than Texas Killing Fields is. Post-Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, there's no reason for the level of suspense to be commensurate with a first season episode of C.S.I. New York.
Part of it comes down to budget constraints, but I came away from TKF with no connection to these people, and no real knowledge of how this particular case fit in with the broader scope of the crimes. You can't call your movie Texas Killing Fields and not place it in its proper context.
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But maybe I only care because I'm a Houstonian and many of these killings remain unsolved.
See It/Rent It/Skip It: I'd say rent it, if only because you're probably not going to get much of a chance to see it in the theater.
Texas Killing Fields is in theaters now. And the good people of the Galveston County Chamber of Commerce would like to remind you I-45 is a mostly safe and well-lit thoroughfare.