Published Sep 10, 2014Set against the backdrop of the badlands of Saskatchewan, Jefferson Moneo's debut feature Big Muddy is a moody and atmospheric thriller that's stretched a little thin over an hour and a half. Its setup is promising: a feisty mother (Nadia Litz) of a teenage son makes ends meet by pulling off robberies with her hothead boyfriend (Rossif Sutherland). The son's acquired a love for horses from his mother, and an encounter with a shady former acquaintance (James LeGros) at the racetrack leaves the two on the run.
Confusing mystery with intrigue, the film loses steam when it becomes apparent that it doesn't have any real twists up its sleeve and has simply been generating suspense by withholding information. By the time they've holed up with her father (Stephen McHattie) in Big Muddy, it seems as if the film is just killing time until the climax. Still, it's well-shot and has a terrific ensemble cast, including a powerful lead performance by Litz, who receives great support from McHattie as her father and LeGros in a chilling turn that makes you wonder why he's not in more films these days.