A vicious outlaw on a quest for revenge. A lawman tracking him down. And a town with secrets of its own where they finally cross paths. Sounds like a fairly typical Western, right? Well, director Robert Conway (Krampus Unleashed, The Encounter) and co-writer Owen Conway (Krampus Origins, Battlefield 2025) have added a couple of twists to the plot. And these twists have Eminence Hill flirting with horror as well.
Royce (Clint James, Treehouse, Trailer Park Shark) is upset. His brother was hung for assorted outlaw-type activities. This leaves him no choice but to get his gang, Gretchen (Dominique Swain, Rottentail, Battle Drone), Cyrus (Louie Iaccarino), and Samson (Cameron Kotecki), and seek revenge. We catch up to them as they kill the last member of the jury that sentenced him. They kill his wife too but spare their daughter Ruth (Anna Harr, Blood Craft, Tales from the Other Side). As Gretchen points out since she’s “old enough to bleed” they can sell her to the nearest brothel.
Marshall Quincy (Owen Conway) however is on their trail. He convinces former gang member Garrett (Charlie Motley) to help track him in return for a pardon and a night with his favorite saloon girl. While this is being arraigned, Royce and his crew have managed to have their horses stolen and have Ruth escape. She runs right into the town of Eminence Hill.
Run by Noah (Barry Corbin, Critters 2, No Country For Old Men) Eminence Hill is a reclusive town of God-fearing folk. And they have good reason to fear him because their brand of Christianity is even more fucked up than Pat Robertson’s. And with the Marshall closing in the stage is set for a three-way showdown that’s going to let a lot of folks meet their God.
While Eminence Hill isn’t his first Western, Conway’s films have mostly fallen into the horror genre. So when characters started talking about a group of Apache outcasts known as Blood Feathers I thought we might be going into Bone Tomahawk territory. Sadly they get mentioned a lot but don’t put in an appearance.
When we reach Eminence Hill I thought we might be in for some 2000 Maniacs type action. There’s no livestock to be seen, and the townsfolk gotta eat something, right? Well, there’s nothing supernatural or cannibalistic going on, but they do like their violent fun.
But then, a lot of Eminence Hill revolves around things not being or going the way you think. Several of the characters respond in ways you don’t expect when things get rough. Though it’s probably no surprise that Marshall Quincy isn’t what he seems either. The film does a nice job of teasing out just how bloodstained his past is. Then cements it in a short scene featuring Lance Henriksen (D-Railed, West Of Hell) as an old-timer who has the misfortune of recognizing him.
There is plenty of violence, some practical and some CGI. I’m glad that there were more practical effects in Eminence Hill than in the director’s earlier films. But what should have been the film’s most disturbing killing was still ruined by bad CGI.
Eminence Hill overall is an enjoyably dark Western. There are enough bloodshed and traces of horror to set it apart from other recent sagebrush sagas.
Uncork’d Entertainment will release Eminence Hill in theatres on November 1st, followed by a VOD and DVD release on November 5th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for cities and theatres.