'Echoes of War': Film Review

Courtesy of ARC Entertainment

Kane Senes' post-Civil War drama concerns the violent conflict between two Southern clans

There's no doubt that life in the 19th century moved at a slower pace. But hopefully not as slow as the sluggish post-Civil War drama directed and co-written by Kane Senes that wears its shopworn ideas too heavily on its sleeve. Depicting the Hatfield and McCoy-style feud between two Southern families, Echoes of War once again reminds us that conflict has consequences.

Set in Texas, the film concerns the return of Confederate soldier Wade (James Badge Dale) to the home of his late sister to see brother-in-law Seamus Riley (Ethan Embry), niece Abby (Maika Monroe) and nephew Samuel (Owen Teague). It soon becomes apparent that things are not going well in the household, with the family reduced to surviving by trapping small animals, eating the flesh and selling the pelts. Unfortunately, their efforts are undercut by the neighboring cattle ranching McCluskey clan, whose livestock was appropriated by the army.

Headed by patriarch Randolph (veteran B-movie villain William Forsythe), the McCluskeys have also hit hard times, having lost a son to the war and the mother (Beth Broderick) reduced to a near catatonic state. To get by, Randolph and his two surviving resort to stealing animals from the Rileys' traps, a situation which the clearly violence-prone Wade is not willing to tolerate.

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When Wade visits Randolph and delivers a not-so-subtly declared threat, it has little effect, with the result that Wade, who seems to be suffering from a Civil War-era post-traumatic stress disorder, begins taking matters into his own hands and delivering retribution. Complicating the ensuing mayhem is the Romeo and Juliet-style  romance between Abby and the more peaceful-minded Marcus McCluskey (Rhys Wakefield). The violence inevitably escalates, culminating in a bloody showdown between Wade and the members of the opposing clan that results in victims both guilty and innocent.

The screenplay's idea of character definition is illustrating Randolph's amorality by showing him engaged in violent sex with his unresponsive wife, while director Senes piles on the irony via another scene intercutting a brutal beating with tender lovemaking.

Hamstrung by their one-dimensional roles, the performers can do little to elevate the material which doggedly follows an all too familiar path in relentlessly dull fashion.

Production: American Film Productions, Provenance Pictures, Country Club
Cast: James Badge Dale, Ethan Embry, William Forsythe, Maika Monroe, Rhys Wakefield
Director: Kane Senes
Screenwriters: Kane Senes, John Chriss
Producers: Steven J. Berger, Dave Szamet, Kyle Fischer, John Chriss, Kane Senes, J.M.R. Luna, Josh Cole
Executive producer: The Forte Senes Group
Director of photography: Wes Cardino
Production designer: Anne Costa
Editor: Arndt Peemoeller
Costume designer: Colin Wilkes

Composer: Hanan Townshend
Casting: Emily Schweber

Rated R, 104 min.

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