Movie Review: ‘God’s Country’

Greetings again from the darkness. Do you ever have that feeling that if no one’s going to do something then “I guess I will”? These days it seems our systems and institutions are failing us, and that’s at the heart of what is eating at Sandra (Thandiwe Newton), a college professor living in a remote house in the mountains. When the film opens, she is at the crematorium for her recently deceased mother. Soon after, two hunters park on her land, and their reactions after she politely asks them not to, tells us where this story is headed.

Writer-director Julian Higgins and co-writer Shaye Ogbanna never give Sandra (or us) any reason to think everything is going to be just fine. It’s a slow-burn towards disaster, and we can’t help but watch to see how bad situations turn worse and how the conclusion plays out. Violence is expected … especially after we see how ineffective the local acting Sheriff (Jeremy Bobb) is at his job.

The ”chapters” in this story are actually the days numbered so that we can keep up with the tension. A red truck, an arrow in the door, a police report, a faculty meeting, a church organist, and the disclosure by a student (Tanaya Beatty) all lead us to the dreaded seventh day. The stress builds for Sandra, who manages to hold her tongue quite often, right up until she doesn’t. It’s clear to us that she’s carrying a bitterness and a chip … and seeking vengeance. It’s easy for us to emphasize with Sandra in the first two acts, though it’s likely many will join me in being a bit disappointed in the final act.

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