|Posted by Nick Spake on December 27, 2017 at 12:00 AM|
You can tell from Travis Mills’ filmography that he practically lives behind the camera. In addition to writing, producing, and directing several dozen shorts, Mills has also directed a handful of feature films. With his features, Mills has explored a variety of different genres. "Durant's Never Closes" was an intriguing character study about a mysterious restaurant owner. "Porches and Private Eyes" was a quirky comedy with elements of "Desperate Housewives."
"Blood Country" is perhaps Mills' most polished film to date. Well, the most polished to my knowledge, as I've yet to see his "Duel at the Mound" or "Bride of Violence." To think, Mill made a good chunk of his features between 2014 and 2017. How he found the time to direct all these projects in such a short amount of time is beyond me. All that can be said for sure is that filmmaking is in his blood.
His latest film draws inspiration from Robert E. Jones' short story, "The Outlaw, the Sheriff, and the Governor." Taking place shortly after the Civil War, the story revolves around a man accused of murdering his brother. Cotton Yancey, who's a dead ringer for Sam Elliot, turns in effective work as the sheriff tasked with seeing that justice is served.
"Blood Country" has echoes of several other films that came out in 2017. The murder at the center of the story calls Taylor Sheridan's "Wind River" to mind. The racial tensions addressed in the film are also reminiscent of Dee Rees' "Mudbound." As familiar as parts of "Blood Country" might be, Mills sets his film apart thanks to some strong performances, atmospheric cinematography, and a distinctive tone.
As is the case with Mills' other films, "Blood Country" may prove a bit too slowly paced for some. For those that can look beyond its understated nature, though, they'll find a film that poignant, gripping, and ultimately rewarding. It'll additionally leave them eager to see what project Mills will take on next.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Stars