(US/UK/France - 2017)
Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. Cast: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Julia Jones, Kelsey Asbille, James Jordan, Hugh Dillon, Martin Sensmeier, Teo Briones, Tantoo Cardinal, Apesanahkwat, Eric Lange, Tokala Clifford, Ian Bohen. (R, 108 mins)
After scripting 2015's acclaimed SICARIO and scoring an Oscar nomination for writing the next year's HELL OR HIGH WATER, actor-turned-screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (SONS OF ANARCHY) scores a trifecta with WIND RIVER, which he also directed. Sheridan spent much of this year's Sundance Film Festival calling WIND RIVER his "directorial debut," and well, it's not. He directed a tardy torture porn horror film called VILE in 2012 and has been going to great and borderline absurd lengths to distance himself from it and wish it away. As SICARIO began getting accolades a couple of years ago, VILE suddenly vanished from Sheridan's IMDb page, with it then becoming the sole entry on the IMDb page of a "Taylor Sheridan (IV)" as if another Taylor Sheridan directed it. VILE is a terrible film--the worst torture porn horror flick ever, honestly--but as I pointed out in my reviews of SICARIO and HELL OR HIGH WATER and as Film School Rejects' Joshua Coonrod detailed in his Sundance article "Why Is Taylor Sheridan Pretending Wind River Is His Directorial Debut?" Sheridan's selective memory and his rewriting of history to keep this zombie lie alive are deceptive and blatantly dishonest. Everyone has to start somewhere and pay their dues, and sure, maybe VILE was just a job to get his feet wet, but if James Cameron can own up to PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, Matthew McConaughey to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION, and George Clooney to RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, Taylor Sheridan can admit he made VILE. To ignore VILE, no matter how wretchedly unwatchable it is, is insulting to the cast and crew who haven't achieved Sheridan's level of success in the years since--many of them are probably still waiting tables and working retail jobs between auditions if they haven't given up on acting altogether (an exception being Ian Bohen, a VILE co-star who has a small role here)--and it paints him as some kind of instant wunderkind that he's not. There's very few instances of a Quentin Tarantino coming out of nowhere with one game-changing classic after another. In short, WIND RIVER is a terrific film, Sheridan shows great promise behind the camera going forward and has every right to be proud of it. But no matter how many critics are unaware of VILE and write glowing reviews calling WIND RIVER his directorial debut because that's what they've been told, it's not and Sheridan needs to cut the shit. I mean, look at Pantera. They tried to make Metal Magic go away and did that work? No.
|Sheridan (center) with his WIND RIVER stars|
at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
|Sheridan (in gray t-shirt) on the set of VILE. Directing.|