The story of a drifter named Paul who arrives in a small town seeking revenge on the thugs who murdered his friend. Sisters Mary Anne and Ellen, who run the town's hotel, help Paul in his quest for vengeance.
Directed by: Ti West
Author: John Chard
The Denton Rapscallion. In a Valley of Violence is written and directed by Ti West. It stars Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransome, Karen Gillan and John Travolta. Music is by Jeff Grace and cinematography by Eric Robbins. Ethan Hawke plays Paul, an ex soldier accompanied only by his dog, Abbie, who is drifting across the desert towards Mexico. Stopping off in the dying town of Denton, Paul finds trouble that will have consequences for himself and town alike. Ti West is more well known for his horror ventures, where although divisive in that genre sphere, he can be proud of his success rate. Here he tackles the Western, and true to form, he homages past genre masters whilst unmistakably putting his own stamp on things. Opening with credits straight out of Spaghetti Western land, and introducing us to a musical score that will accompany the story that is wonderfully feverish, West is in no hurry for blood and bone shenanigans. He always favours the slow burn and so it proves here. There's nothing remotely new here, it's a standard tale of a gunman - one damaged by his war efforts - who through circumstance is forced to abandon his hope of a quiet life. He's a loner man of few words, thus giving viewers a classic Western character staple, an anti-hero to root for and for us to yearn for him to find peace. When the violence comes, it's sharp and bloody, but often there is humour as well, deftly inserted into proceedings, whilst the canine is skillful and a key character to all and sundry. Perfs are more than adequate. Hawke sifts seamlessly into being a believable drifter type of complexity, Ransome is annoyingly brattish, but that's actually job well done, and Travolta - sporting a wooden leg - gets better once (and if) you buy into him in this setting. Gillan isn't given much to do, but lands some decent emotive punches, but it's Farmiga who stands out as Mary-Anne. She's utterly infectious and thankfully she gets a well written part, that of a young woman trying to hold her own in the most trying of township circumstance. The purpose built town of Denton looks just that!, but this is off- set a touch by the nice location landscapes (Santa Fe, New Mexico), and with the story working from solid genre foundations then this is a pleasure - without pulling up any trees - for fans of such. 7/10