• Tennessee Gothic (Gypsy Root Productions) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Gypsy Root Productions
    Released on: October, 2019.
    Director: Jeff Wedding
    Cast: William Ryan Watson, Jackie Kelly, Victor Hollingsworth, Wynn Reichert, Jason Christ, Christine Poythress
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Gypsy Root Productions

    Tennessee Gothic – Movie Review:

    Based on Ray Russell’s short story American Gothic, director/co-writer Jeff Wedding’s 2019 film Tennessee Gothic opens with a grisly scene where a beautiful young woman named Sylvia (Jackie Kelly) is brutally assaulted by two men wielding a nasty looking knife. That knife comes in handy when she manages to free herself and kill her attackers.

    When the sun comes up, Sylvia is found covered in blood and unconscious by Paw (Victor Hollingsworth) and his son Caleb (William Ryan Watson). Paw is a widower and Caleb, well, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. They load her into their truck and bring her back to their place, unusually unconcerned about what she may have been up to. When she wakes up, they let her know she’s free to stay so long as she’s willing to earn her keep by helping out with everything going on at their farm. This seems like an amiable enough arrangement and it becomes very clear very quickly that she and Caleb are attracted to one another. Their relationship moves fast, and as it does, we start to uncover little tidbits of information about Sylvia’s past.

    Meanwhile, a nosey minister, Reverend Simms (Wynn Reichert), takes issue with this mysterious young woman living with two men, neither of whom is her husband, and starts pushing to have her handed over to the county. Sylvia soon strikes up her own relationship with Simms, much to the dismay of his wife (Christine Poythress) all while a man named Ronnie (Jason Christ), the brother of one of the men she killed in the beginning of the film, starts poking around looking for revenge. Things get even more complicated from there on out as lust, misogyny and suspicion all begin to take their toll.

    With political correctness tossed completely out the window, Tennessee Gothic is an odd picture, but an entertaining one to be sure. Jackie Kelly, who was excellent in In Memory Of, once again makes for a strong female lead. Her character is exploited throughout the movie (at one point she’s quite literally greased up like a pig and chased around), particularly as it builds to its unexpected finish, but Kelly is a trooper and she gives it her all. Her performance is a bold one, but she owns the film. The rest of the cast are petty solid too. William Ryan Watson and Victor Hollingsworth are good in their respective roles, particularly once conflict sets in between them, while Wynn Reichert is good as the shifty reverence and Christine Poythress just as good as his put-upon wife. Throw in Jason Christ as a burly tough out for revenge and things shape up quite well.

    Jeff Wedding paces the film well. It moves at a good clip and while the revenge and horror aspects of the story hit heavier than the occasional, but effective, moments of comic relief - which would be jarring in tone to some viewers not expecting it – the film proves well-balanced. The script, from Wedding and co-writer Ray Russell, is a lot more literate than you might expect it to be and it thankfully avoids falling into the whole ‘redneck stereotype’ thing. Production values are very strong for an indie film made on a modest budget. Wicked Pixel’s Eric Stanze’s handles the 16mm photography and it’s fantastic – beautiful when it needs to be, at other times quite shocking. Not all of the makeup effects work perfectly but they get close enough more often than not.

    Tennessee Gothic – Blu-ray Review:

    Tennessee Gothic arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and looking great on a 25GB disc. Shot on Super 16mm film stock, the image has plenty of visible, natural grain but shows pretty much no print damage at all. Colors are reproduced beautifully and black levels look nice and deep. The image is free of compression artifacts or edge enhancement problems and there are no noticeable issues with noise reduction. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and there’s a lot of strong detail and texture here to take in. The picture quality is rock-solid.

    The English language 16-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is also of very good quality. Dialogue stays properly balanced throughout and it’s always clean and clear, though there are a couple of spots where some of Sylvia’s lines are just a tad soft. The score sounds good. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note, the audio here is just fine.

    There’s a good bit of supplemental material included on the disc starting with a commentary track featuring director Jeff Wedding, producer Kate Groshong and actor/producer/production manager Harry Walker that covers a lot of ground. They talk about where how it sucks to shoot in a nasty creek full of leaches (which led to a trip to a porn store), the concept of going ‘full boner,’ the trickiness of playing dead and having your hand land on a fellow cast members’ nuts, some of the details (or lack thereof) behind the Playboy featured in a scene, the idea for the film came from, the source material that was used for the production, casting the picture, the locations used for the picture, some of the issues that they ran into while making the film, why Paw has always got a sucker in his mouth, and lots, lots more. These three are clearly having a blast looking back on the making of the movie, there’s a lot of enthusiasm in here but it’s also quite funny in spots.

    The disc also contains a twenty-four-minute Behind The Scenes Documentary that includes interviews with pretty much all of the cast members as well as Wedding and Groshong and cinematographer Eric Stanze. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary but having Stanze and the cast involved here means that it also covers a fair bit of new ground, including their experiences on the set, thoughts on the film and more – including how the film is connected to The Incubus, shooting the film over a month in Nashville, how Stanze pushed for proper lighting instead of day for night in a few key scenes, Kelly’s spiritual connection to Marilyn Burns at the end of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, how the cast felt about the script and plenty of other bits and pieces.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a still gallery, four-minutes’ worth of outtakes, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Oh, and there’s an Easter Egg included on the disc too.

    Tennessee Gothic – The Final Word:

    Tennessee Gothic is the rare indie horror/comedy that really works. The acting is strong, the story is tight, the direction is solid and the camerawork is gorgeous. Gypsy Root Productions has done a very nice job brining their film to Blu-ray with a great transfer, strong audio and a nice selection of extra features. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Tennessee Gothic Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      This sounds rad.