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Heather's DVD Review: Texas Killing Fields
Is it possible to catch a dangerous serial killer without being a casualty yourself? That's the test for two detectives in the DVD release of Texas Killings Fields, which had potential to scare viewers but it's approach left them feeling disappointed instead.
Texas Killing Fields followed two Texas State Police Detectives as they were pulled into the dangerous world of a serial killer who carefully chose their victims before they were left to die in a place known as the "killing fields" where no man was willing to go. Detective Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was a family man from New York with a loving wife (Annabeth Gish) who supported his devotion to his job. She didn't question why he brought home for dinner one day a troubled teen named Ann Sliger (Chloe Grace Moretz) who got into trouble with the law to get her family to notice her. Unfortunately, that wasn't ever going to happen. Heigh's partner Detective Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) was a local cop who was a known hothead that didn't hesitate to get in a suspect's face. His contentious relationship with another local cop Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain) threatened to derail everything related to catching the killer who had no clear motive or plan, but they were always able to avoid getting caught. Can the three cops work together long enough to stay alive?
In terms of plot, Texas Killing Fields had the makings of being a first rate thriller, but it was almost derailed instead by a lack of a clear story. There was no real explanation as to why the killer became just that. Sadly, there wasn't much of a strong link between some of the related stories until the last ten minutes of the movie when the action truly reached its peak. After a fateful confrontation in the "killing fields," the chase that followed a shocking gun battle that left more casualties than survivors. Unfortunately, the build-up to that scene had lacked the proper finesse to warrant such a strong ending. That issue can be explained by the simple fact that there was no real focus in the movie, because there were too many characters to root for or against that it became unclear who was the real hero of the story. Many would assume that it would be Morgan's Heigh but his obsessive nature led his down a dark hole that could only end one way or another. It was more tragic than heroic. Worthington's Souder wasn't really portrayed as sympathetic until the very end of the movie and Chastain's Pam wasn't on-screen long enough to make too strong of an impression either way.
In the end, Moretz's Ann was the one that last the strongest impression because her character had to deal with growing up in an environment where she was told by her family to remain invisible when something illegal was going on around her. She had to hide in shelters to pass the time. Moretz conveyed Ann's pain and isolation with a mere look of genuine sadness that was mixed with youthful disdain for authority. Her scenes with Morgan were an interesting dynamic that should've been explored more, so that the audience could understand how two people from very different worlds were able to connect. Worthington and Chastain had a strong chemistry that wasn't fully explored and would've been dynamic to see. Hopefully, they'll get to do that in another movie someday. Sooner rather than later.
Verdict: Fields had a decent cast and a true story to work with, but the relaxed story pacing and a lack of connecting multiple storylines nearly ruined the reveal of the killer's identity.
DVD Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)