Big Fat Independent Movies

Sending Off SXSW Film 04

Big Fat Independent Movies

Straight Into Darkness

D: Jeff Burr; with Scott MacDonald, Ryan Francis, David Warner, Linda Thorson, James LeGros

Narrative Feature Special Screenings, U.S. Premiere

In the twilight days of World War II, two American GIs – one wild and violent, the other quiet and haunted by his past – go AWOL in a bid to escape the horrors of the battlefield. But their flight through wintry forests and fields only leads them right where the title says. They encounter one nightmare after another: a mute priest with a taste for human flesh, an entire wedding party hanged from trees, a miniature army of gun-toting orphans. It gives Burr's combat drama the feel of Edgar Allen Poe having shanghaied Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe and marched them through his fevered imagination. Grim it certainly is, and once Poe's "The Conqueror Worm" is quoted, the outcome is never in doubt, but crisp cinematography and taut performances by all the actors – including a crew of true orphans from Romania – build up such atmosphere and tension that we can't run from it any more than its characters can.

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