Red Dirt (2000)

Written & Directed by Tag Purvis
Starring Dan Montgomery, Karen Black, Aleksa Palladino, Walton Goggins, Glenn Shadix

My Advice: Wait for MST3K.

Griffith (Montgomery) was born in Pineapple, Mississippi. He's lived there all his life. In fact, he happens to be in love with his (presumably first) cousin, Emily (Palladino). He's fed up with dealing with his demented Aunt Selma (Black, and her name appears as "Summer" in the credits, but with the bad southern accents of the actors I swear to God her name is "Selma") and her penchant for fits of nerves and listening to opera music. He's ready to pull up stakes and head for...well, anywhere. He probably hasn't left yet because he hasn't learned how to wear shoes. But when a drifter (Goggins, whose name we find out several scenes later is Lee) wanders into town, Griffith's entire world gets thrown into a quandry.

Ow. That's the word that sprang to mind after viewing this film. That and the thought that the Mississippi Board of Tourism is probably, or has already, taken out a lawsuit against the makers of this film. Because after watching this, who in God's name would ever want to go there? The film makes the state out to be the American version of Siberia. And every character seems to spend half the time (a) wondering what they're doing there, (b) making plans to leave or (c) wishing they had left a long time ago. Which was pretty much what I was feeling during the viewing of the film.

Why? Well, the film struggles to find some kind of a point for its first hour. There's the strange love affair between Emily and Griffith, which smacks of having no other reason for existence other than, "We're bored. It's Mississippi. Wanna screw?" At no point do they actually seem to have any real feeling for one another. This is probably due to the utterly criminal dialogue they're forced to speak to one another, and the fact that most exchanges between characters seem to have little to no weight whatsoever, seeing as how there's no real plot to drive forward. Characters wander between scenes and seem to have no motivation to do what they're doing. Emily enters a scene crying? Why? No clue. Inexplicable footage of dogs walking down railroad tracks seem to pop up in a couple of places as filler--only adding to the sore shoulders from shrugging for 111 minutes.

Oh sure, there's the relationship later in the film that seems to suddenly find itself the center of attention, but when this happens--all of the other characters sure saw it coming. Shame we didn't. It almost felt like it was a last minute addition the screenplay. We need a twist. Hey, I know--! If there's anything nice that needs to be said about the film, it's the score by Nathan Barr. His usage of strings, especially towards the beginning, leads you to think you might actually be getting a quality film. Otherwise, this wince-a-minute flick should be avoided.

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