In the spirit of the new direction 6 Guns pointed The Asylum, I humbly present this killer-gang thriller that's part western, part 70's-era slasher flick, and part revenge story. I call it, simply, The Run.
Based on the same historical anecdote that inspired both Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow and Cornell Wilde's The Naked Prey - the run of Lewis & Clark trailblazer John Colter from Blackfeet Indians - The Run begins at the outskirts of the Eastern Oregon desert, late summer 1978. Our protagonist, Franklin Delano Lund, 35, is relocating his wife, two sons and ailing father-in-law from Maryland to Oregon in search of work. He is a boatbuilder, trading Baltimore for Portland. When we meet him it is dawn of their tenth day on the road, and FDL is waking in his hammock to the rays of the new sun. If all goes well, by the time the sun sets again, they should be in Portland. If all goes well.
All Not Going Well #1: Soon after FDL and the fam hit the road that morning, the radiator in their old pickup truck cracks, stranding them along an isolated stretch of highway.
All Not Going Well #2: It takes well into that night before another vehicle is seen to approach them.
All Not Going Well #3: The vehicle in question is a pickup truck carrying seven men - rogues, scoundrels, sweaty psychos - who after feigning assistance, attack and abduct FDL and his family, dragging them off screaming into the empty night.
They are taken to a barn even further into the isolated desert where for the next few days they are humiliated and abused for the inebriated and heartless amusement of their captors, mostly FDL, that we see, but by the time these few days are over, FDL is the only member of his family left alive, and the fun has ended for his captors; now it's time to dispose of the last remaining witness (I'm leaving out a lot of details about their time in the barn, the little events that build to this Act One climax, because they're too sweet to give away here. one would hypothetically have to read the script.). But Roscoe, the leader of the gang, sees promise in FDL, he sees fire, so he doesn't want to just kill him, he wants to play with him for one last contest: the run of the arrow.
The run of the arrow works as follows: FDL is made to strip naked. Then, the gang's best archer (yes, they have a best archer) fires an arrow as far as he can into the desert. Upon this arrow landing, FDL is instructed to walk to it, and when he reaches it, he's told he should start to run. Why? FDL wants to know. Because, Roscoe informs him slyly, That's when the men start giving chase. That's when the game becomes kill or be killed.
(FDL's naked, tired, dehydrated, hungry, battered and unarmed, of course, while his captors are whiskey-fueled, vicious, well-armed and used to hunting human prey. so...his odds aren't great [which makes him that much more empathetic and badass])
The next two acts of the film are this chase, FDL running through the desert, trying to gain any advantage he can, as one-by-one the men pursue him, forcing violent conflicts only one can walk away from. And when it isn't the men he's battling, it's the environment, the heat, the sand, his own thirst and hunger; every instant becomes survival. This chase is also a flight from character, as FDL struggles to save what is still good within himself from the rising murderous rage he feels over the deaths of his family, the cruel fate that brought him here, and the men who would play with his life like he was a bug. Ultimately, however, he realizes the only way he is going to survive is to have his revenge, to become like the men he despises - a ruthless, wanton killer.
I won't give away any more - every detail is a spoiler in this one - but to say that in addition to his pursuers and the environment, FDL must also contend with mountain lions, deranged mountain folk, a coyote and heartbreak after heartbreak courtesy of thwarted salvation. And the ending, specifically the final scene, is, in my humble, responsible opinion, awesome
An engaging action-thriller and an intense character study, The Run is equal parts brutal and fragile, as are the psyches of most men pushed beyond their limits. It's about more than physical survival, more than cold vengeance, it's about what, if anything, can survive - emotionally, mentally, morally - when everything is ripped away from you and destroyed needlessly before your eyes.
Think Cormac McCarthy meets Wes Craven, if I may be so pretentious, or Texas Chainsaw Massacre in Oregon minus the chainsaw. I'm seeing Jeff Denton as FDL, Sarah Lieving as his wife, and perhaps Paul Logan - if we can dirty him up, think Killers-era PL - as vicious alpha male Roscoe. And this pitch comes with a finished script.
I'm just sayin'.