The Films of Taylor Sheridan
Vile (December 19/14)
An almost comically terrible Saw knockoff, Vile follows several strangers as they're abducted and confined to a dilapidated old house - where they're eventually told that the only way out is to inflict tremendous amounts of pain on one another. (The characters have all been equipped with a machine that collects a specific brain fluid that's only released when one is in extreme turmoil.) It's an inherently stupid premise that's utilized to consistently underwhelming (and flat-out tedious) effect by filmmaker Taylor Sheridan, with the pervasively low-rent atmosphere, which is perpetuated and compounded by a series of aggressively amateurish performances, standing as the tip of the iceberg in terms of the movie's myriad of distracting deficiencies. It becomes clear, inevitably, that the silly setup is really just an excuse for Sheridan to offer up a series of torture sequences, with the director's inability to establish even a single compelling character ensuring that such moments fall hopelessly flat (ie these scenes are appreciatively disgusting, yes, but it's impossible to care what happens to any of these people). There's little doubt, as well, that Vile only grows more and more tedious as it progresses, with Sheridan's last-minute decision to transform one of the victims into an antagonist smacking of desperation and serving little purpose aside from prolonging the already-interminable running time - which inevitably (and ultimately) confirms the movie's place as a seriously dreadful horror effort.
Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River follows Jeremy Renner’s Cory Lambert, a Wyoming based wildlife tracker, as he teams up with a green FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen’s Jane Banner) to catch a killer. It’s clear immediately that Sheridan is in absolutely no rush to tell this story, as Wind River unfolds at a somewhat glacial pace that never becomes oppressive, admittedly - with the unique, barren landscape and inherently intriguing storyline going a long way towards keeping things interesting. There’s little doubt, as well, that the film benefits substantially from an inclusion of impressively engrossing sequences, with, for example, Renner’s character delivering an absolutely mesmerizing speech to a friend about the death of his daughter years earlier - with the impact of this interlude heightened by Renner’s unexpectedly riveting performance (ie it’s not a stretch to label this his best work in years). And although the movie’s less-than-hurried execution often threatens to diminish its positive attributes, Wind River escalates to a point where essentially the entire final third is far more hypnotic and spellbinding than one might’ve predicted - with, especially, a climactic gun battle packing a visceral punch that’s nothing short of astounding. The end result is a picture that would probably improve upon repeat viewings (ie once it’s clear where all this is going, the relaxed pace does make sense), and it’s fairly apparent that Sheridan possesses some real chops and promise as a filmmaker.