Two more grumpy reviews for No More Workhorse.
All horror movies are allegories. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a visceral articulation of the racial turmoil of 1960s America. The Shining is a through-a-mirror-darkly reflection on domestic violence. The Fly examines the dehumanising degradation and social opprobrium of the AIDS crisis. The best of them hold a multiplicity of interpretations, intended and unintended readings alike hidden behind door 237, if we can only find the right key. Too often in contemporary cinema, this higher purpose – the cathexis of our fears and traumas – is abandoned in favour of cheap jump scares and ‘fan service’ re-imaginings. Achieving something that wields the mythic cudgel of fear without becoming crushed under the weight of cliché isn’t easy.
All hail West Texas, land of slick rich quick schemes and rural desperation. Rarely has a crime caper placed such emphasis on the decay of the contemporary American West. ‘Three tours in Iraq but no bailout for people like us’, reads a tag in the opening shots of David Mackenzie’s gritty tragedy. Ben Foster (playing a black sheep Ben Foster type), and a distractingly handsome Chris Pine (playing Josh Brolin from No Country For Old Men) are Hell & High Water: Fiercely affectionate good ol’ bros; authentic American antiheroes who communicate exclusively in brandoesque growls. Everywhere the camera turns, under beautifully expressive plains clouds, ‘Closing Down’ and ‘Debt Relief’ signs war for attention with the ramshackle landscape of White American poverty. This is a land plagued by bush fires, debt and televangelists.