Westerns are typically capital intensive looking at all the elements that are need to get the story right. From location choices, set design, art direction, costuming and even props. None of these can be compromised if you want the audience to really feel like this is a western and enjoy it for what it is.
But for many indie filmmakers all they need is a story, the heart and determination to tell the story.
‘Eye for Eye’ is an on-screen adaptation of a novel by L.J Martin who also directs this feature.
It is a story that follows a local Sherriff, Quint Reagan whose pregnant wife Consuela is raped and killed by the henchmen of a local land baron, Braddock (John Savage). Reagan drops his badge, picks up his gun and sets out to find justice for her wife.
This is typical revenge story like many westerns and sets the tone for what is supposed to be a hunt for justice.
Braddock is just a greedy wealthy man who is just interested in acquiring land to expand his ranch. His men kill Consuela by their own justification and through no order of his. But that doesn’t matter to Quint. As far as he knows, someone or several others must pay for his loss.
With this plot you would expect this film to be a full on, horseback riding, guns blazing quest for vengeance. But it takes a slow burning laid back approach in telling this story.
Truth is, it is hard not to compare this film to any other western that you have seen. You are tempted however to cut it some slack particularly because it is a small budget indie. But that should never be an excuse form bad acting.
You would expect that the characters in the film would give the audience something to hold on to but their performance is not much to leave the viewer in awe and admiration. Several of the performances are not con wincing enough. There isn’t even a specific cowboy accent running throughout the dialogue. And you can tell no effort was made on the path to make sure there was some seeming consistency at least.
The characters used in telling this story also are not engaging enough to capture and hold your attention throughout the films entire runtime.
The costuming, also doesn’t seem too accurate or even close for the 1870’s era that this film appears to be set in.
However, the location choice for this film works, there are enough greens, his and vistas to fit the bill of a western. What is surprisingly missing is the dry earthy tones and warm brownish color pallet that is distinctive of most westerns. ‘Eye For Eye’ has some pop in the color, making it feel event more difficult to accept that this is indeed is a western.
As a debut feature film for the director, Martin it is a fair attempt. He makes do with what he has at his disposal and succeeds at telling this story from start to finish. There is some promise and hopefully, if he ever decides to make another western, he gets all the he needs and not a shoestring budget to tell it as close to perfection as can be.
I would score this film 5/10. It doesn’t feel like something you can watch over and over again. But it is worth the time if you are interested in seeing a small-scale indie western.