The Future Cult strand at the Glasgow Film Festival presents new and old underground and cult cinema on the big screen. The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is the debut feature film from director Henry Dunham and is a dark thriller that is vying for cult status.
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek begins during the aftermath of a mass shooting at a funeral for a local police officer. A local militia group convene together to gather facts about the shooting. They soon realise that a missing gun in their armoury points the finger at one of the seven men. Former cop Gannon (James Badge Dale) leads an internal investigation to find out which of the men is guilty, whilst the group try to remain hidden from police officers who are attempting to capture the gunman for themselves.
The film is very dark in tone and takes place almost entirely in a warehouse. The men are constantly in darkness and the action and drama feels claustrophobic and suffocating. Gannon is in charge and uses intimidation, bravado and the threat of violence to get his way. It is a great performance and a one-on-one encounter with the cop-hating Morris (Happy Anderson) is intense and penetrating. However, one of the main problems of the film is that all the characters come over as despicable people. They all seem to hate police officers and worship guns. They have no endearing qualities and this makes it hard for the viewer to get behind the innocent man, whoever that may be. As the internal investigation continues the threat from the police feels distant and not as genuine or ominous as the drama suggests. Therefore, when the movie draws to a close, it is not entirely electrifying or exhilarating. The finale feels like a forgone conclusion and the final twist is rather weak, despite the brilliant performances from the cast.