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New Release Review (DVD) - THE TIMBER

A pair of brothers agree to hunt down their fugitive father to save their land.



Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Anthony O'Brien

Starring: Josh Peck, James Ransone, Elisa Lasowski, Mark Caven



Had O'Brien and his co-writers allowed us more time to get to know their film's protagonists, we may have cared more about their plight, but The Timber is a movie as paper-thin as its accompanying layer of snow is thick.



After decades in the wilderness, the western is enjoying a minor comeback. Last year gifted us with Slow West and The Salvation, while in recent weeks we've been impressed by the Kurt Russell double whammy of The Hateful Eight and Bone Tomahawk. Coming soon is the female led The Keeping Room and Ti West's revenge oater In a Valley of Violence. The Timber is more of a kin with the classic B-Westerns, and even features a B-picture running time of a mere 79 minutes.



The premise of Anthony O'Brien's film shares a similar dynamic with John Hillcoat's Aussie riff on the western, The Proposition, pitting family members against each other in service of the law. Here it's brothers Wyatt (James Ransone) and Samuel (Josh Peck) who are forced to bring their fugitive father Jebediah into the arms of the law when the bank threatens to foreclose on their homestead. Along with a sinister bank appointed hired hand (William Gaunt), the brothers set off into a foreboding stretch of wilderness known as 'The Timber'.



As I mentioned, The Timber has a very brief runtime; all too brief, as the film never allows itself time to breath. Unlike Bone Tomahawk, which afforded us time to get to know its characters on a similar journey, The Timber feels impatient and hurried, never allowing us any sense of how long this trek is actually taking its participants. It doesn't take too long for the brothers to arrive at the location housing their father, and the journey is devoid of any memorable incidents beyond a couple of sloppily edited encounters with hostile forces. Any suspense that may have arisen from the suspicious intentions of Gaunt's accompanying hired gun is blotted out by his limited screen time.


What the film does quite well is convey the harshness of this snowbound corner of the old west. Blanketed in snow and frost, the actors genuinely look like they're in pain throughout, and you'll be reaching for your warmest onesie should you watch this on your couch.



Had O'Brien and his co-writers allowed us more time to get to know their film's protagonists, we may have cared more about their plight, but The Timber is a movie as paper-thin as its accompanying layer of snow is thick. This one's for die-hard western fans only.
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