Showdown in Yesteryear (2022) Review
Daryl Dumwoody (Jeff Grennell, Guns of Eden, Clay Zombies) dreams of being a cowboy, but as close as he’s gotten is a job cleaning out stables. A job that he comes home from to find his girlfriend in the process of moving out. And then he loses his job, which drives him to the point of suicide.
But as he prepares to put the noose around his neck he sees a door in the middle of a field. No building, just a door. Not wanting to die curious he goes to take a look and after, a bit of a struggle, manages to open it. He falls through it and finds himself in what he thinks is one of those tourist western reenactments. But when he has to intervene after a shooting by Jesse ‘The Beast’ Bristol (Jesse Marciniak, Hustle on Lombard, D.A.D.A. – Digital Age Dating Anonymous) he realizes the truth.
Showdown in Yesteryear was based on The Door, a short film by producer Tim O’Hearn who is best known as an actor in films like Claw and Killer Rack. It was expanded to feature length by writer Gregory Lamberson (Johnny Gruesome, Widow’s Point) and director Aaron Bratcher (Pawns’ Volition, Rage 5: Franchise Barely Alive) who start it out with a somewhat odd mix of pathos and fish out of water comedy.
The idea seems to have been to portray Daryl as the kind of bumbling nice guy that Don Knotts made a career out of playing in films like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Andy Griffith Show. But they go a little too far and he comes off as such a loser that I was surprised that he had a girlfriend to leave him.
Things improve once the plot turns to comedy and we see him trying to pay for a drink with modern money or make a call on his cell phone. But it’s not until Orson Kane (Vernon Wells, Commando, Ghost) turns up demanding The Beast’s release that the film settles into its story with Daryl becoming Sheriff Dobbs’ (Steve Graf, Dominion Tank Police, Bounty Dog) deputy and having to choose between defending the town and romancing Marion (Debra Lamb, Blood Covered Chocolate, Deathrow Gameshow) and returning to the world he left.
Showdown in Yesteryear has a reasonable amount of action for a low-budget film but it’s also fairly tame and bloodless with even a point blank shot to the forehead failing to produce a wound or blood. The one time we do see blood, the CGI is so far from convincing that it’s not likely to be upsetting even to kids. It feels as if it’s trying to stay family-friendly, or as close as possible, which goes with the film’s strong positive messages about believing in one’s self and finding your place in the world. I’d say the script is as much concerned with that as it is with delivering the expected action scenes.
Unfortunately at just under two hours Showdown in Yesteryear feels slow in places and could use a little trimming of scenes that run too long and some redundant dialogue scenes. There’s also a scene where Daryl receives encouragement from what is supposed to be the ghost of his hero, John Wayne. I’m sure it’ll have the intended effect for some people, but it felt corny as hell to me.
Overall though, Showdown in Yesteryear is a solid film in the style of a 50s Hollywood horse opera. And while I prefer the grit of the Italian westerns this was a perfectly acceptable film, fans of traditional westerns will probably have an even more positive reaction.
Lion Heart Distribution will release Showdown in Yesteryear to VOD and Digital Platforms on September 1st. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.