Review: THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK Is The First Must-See Film Of 2019

FIRST IMPRESSION

Apart from cinematography that is a tad too dark at times, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is an excellent film that surprises on many levels.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Imagine being locked in a room with your closest peers knowing that one among you has just committed a horrid crime. That is the case in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is a new thriller from writer-director Henry Dunham. The film an ex-cop who, after a shooting at a police funeral committed by a member of the militia to which he now belongs, must interrogate his peers to figure out who the perpetrator was. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

The story is straightforward, but the way in which it is presented makes it seem much more complex. At the movie’s core is a rather basic whodunit mystery, but there are multiple layers of political and moral commentary that make the script what it is. When the big reveal is made at the end of the film, it is a mostly unexpected and satisfying conclusion to the arc.

The movie did an excellent job of building suspense and tension throughout. The fact that the film is set in such a confined location allows the audience to feel a great deal of claustrophobia. The movie also takes advantage of the overall feeling of paranoia that governs the story and script to create unease within the minds of the audience.

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James Badge Dale as Gannon in the thriller “THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK.” Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

One of the things from which the story benefits is its wonderful characterization. The film presents us with this motley crew of rebels with whom we would not normally sympathize. However, over the course of the movie, we learn that they are not who we think they are as their characters become much more rounded.

The protagonist is a very interesting character as he is introduced as knowing both sides of the battle. His mostly neutral perspective closely mirrors the objective perspective from which the audience is supposed to be observing the film, and as such, we relate to the character because his experiences of the story events are not unlike our own. The rest of the characters range from highly sympathetic to mostly distant, but they all play their part in the story.

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Robert Aramayo as Keating in the thriller “THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK.” Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

The performances in the movie are all great. James Badge Dale is very good in his leading role. He brings a lot of depth and sensitivity to the character. Dale is accented by a strong supporting cast. Robert Aramayo, Gene Jones, and Patrick Fischler are all standouts. They each bring their own flair to the characters, making them come alive.

If the film does have a weakness, it is the cinematography. There are some interesting shots, but the movie as a whole looks too dark and shadowy. It becomes a bit hard to see the action in certain scenes because so much of the shot is obscured by darkness. That being said, the production design — when you can see it — is fairly impressive, with plenty of detail that adds to the single-location suspense.

Overall, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is an excellent thriller. It has a compelling story, interesting characters, and plenty of suspense. Make sure you check this one out.

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is in select theaters and on VOD beginning January 18.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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