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Homestead (2022) Review

Four minutes into Homestead young Irene (Betsy Sligh, Bad Girl, I Want You Back) announces to Jonathan (Greg Kriek, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, Condor’s Nest) who says he’s a surveyor for the railroad that she wants to be a bandit so she can kill people, starting with her father. It would seem he has a tendency towards violence which is why she, her mother Beth (Jamie Bernadette, Dead by Dawn, Ash and Bone), and her twin brother Brian (Cavan Tonascia, Ghosted) live with Robert (Brian Krause, The Windigo, The Demonologist) now.

It should come as no surprise however that he isn’t with the railroad, he’s one of a band of outlaws. The others, Lewis (“Diamond” Dallas Page, Penance Lane, High Heat), Peter (Mike Markoff, Devil’s Snare, The Cove), Enoch (Mark Madeo, Imposter, Unsteady), and Big Ben (Mike Ferguson, Amityville Karen, Amityville Uprising) show up shortly afterwards. It seems they have some unfinished business with Robert.

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Writer/director Ehrland Hollingsworth (Z, Heavy Metal) started shooting homestead in early 2020 before COVID shut production down for several months. Even back then it was being referred to as a horror-western, and the current press release refers to it as a “nail-biting mesh of House of 1000 Corpses and “1883”. Don’t be fooled, the closest it gets to Rob Zombie’s film is the presence of Page, who was in its sequels.

Instead, it’s a fairly straightforward western that’s more like Terror on the Prairie and a host of others. Ezekiel (Scot Scurlock, Death Ranch, Painkiller) adds a bit of flair to the proceedings with his satanic comments, but the closest it gets to horror is, as in Becky, having a young girl who’s every bit as psychotic and sadistic as the villains as the protagonist. Sadly, Homestead lacks the over-the-top gore that made that film so memorable.

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That gore would have helped because nothing about Homestead really stands out. The plot is exceedingly familiar. Back in the day Robert, then known as Henry “The Headhunter” rode with the gang. He eventually left, taking their cash with him and now, years later, they’ve caught up to him.  It’s a staple western plot, apart from the son not being the one to do the killing.

Homestead actually feels like something is missing from the finished film. Everything just sort of plods along with little suspense or mystery as to what’s going to happen next. Even something that should have been held back, such as why the gang is looking for Robert, is offered up almost immediately. Why not keep the viewer guessing, did he double-cross them, or was he a lawman who put them away at some point? A little suspense and misdirection could have gone a long way here.

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The film’s action scenes don’t have much energy or impact either, they’re shot in a very perfunctory manner with much of it staying off-screen. Even a scene where someone gets shot in the head at close range only gets a haze of CGI blood. This is odd considering Homestead compares itself to a film as bloody and sadistic as House of 1,000 Corpses.

Maybe at some point Homestead did have significant horror content and the COVID shutdown forced it to be scrapped for budget or scheduling reasons. But calling the final product horror is pushing the term to the point of fraud. Which is too bad because Becky Goes West could have been a lot of fun. Instead, we got what feels like a grimmer episode of Little House on the Prairie.

Homestead is available free to watch on Tubi wherever that platform is available. If you do watch it all you’ll be wasting is time, but there are better ways to do that, much better ways. And if you’re looking for a better alternative, FilmTagger can make some suggestions.

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