I've watched The Standoff at Sparrow Creek four times now: more than any 2018 picture not named Mandy. If you know me, you know how rare that is. I rarely re-watch new releases, mostly due to having to see 1,000 other movies for work. But I've kept coming back to Sparrow Creek, letting the picture's paranoid, ping-pong dialogue wash over me in proper Mametian fashion. First time filmmaker Henry Dunham has crafted a truly thrilling throw-back to the lumpy, character-driven neo noir of the '70s (with more than a little Jean-Pierre Melville ambiance tossed in for good measure).
As I wrote in my Fantastic Fest review about the writer/director's upsetting Michigan militia man saga:
"Dunham stages every scene with exacting precision, blocking his actors in such a fashion that the distance between them can be closed in an instant, either by words or sharp, unexpected actions. Cinematographer Jackson Hunt lets these men hide in deep, near impenetrably black shadows, with sparse light sources bathing the tableaus in gorgeous, RKO-style chiaroscuro. Meanwhile, Editor Josh Ethier takes these stark images and discovers just the right rhythm, giving the individual moments space to breathe, while still letting them flow into one another effortlessly. To wit, The Standoff At Sparrow Creek is a pitch perfect example of low budget craft, a razor sharp 88 minutes that end with a bang that'll keep viewers second guessing everything they just saw."
If you live in LA, tonight you have a chance to check out what I'm so hyped about. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek hits Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theater, 9:45 PM sharp. The cost? Totally free! That's right, if you just show up to the Egyptian box office, you can grab two passes for one of the best little gems this Festival Season has to offer.
Ahead of its West Coast premiere, we here at BMD were gifted a brand new poster to debut, and the one-sheet's just as stark and wonderful to behold at as the film it's advertising. Check it out:
At Fantastic Fest, I got to sit down with Dunham for a hot minute (full interview coming closer to release), and the rather erudite, gifted storyteller had this to say about his movie:
"...I tried to pin-point conflicts and tension that were universal, while placing the story inside of a group that most would have trouble identifying with on any level. But that's the point: to bring you these outsiders and make them feel just as human as the people you see in your everyday lives...they're simply bound together by fear."
Trust me when I say The Standoff at Sparrow Creek will be one that you won't be able to shake for weeks after seeing it. If '18 ended right now, it'd probably be in my Top 10 of the year. I'll see you at Beyond Fest tonight.