The Quarry

            Chief Moore (Michael Shannon) knows what it's like to be the police chief in a very small town, where the new highway bypasses the city limits by several miles, the economy is poor, and the people even poorer.  The Chief knows everybody in town, even the ones he thinks aren't worth knowing.  Because there are so few jobs, there's a lot of petty crime:  theft, breaking and entering, a little illegal weed being transacted.  Chief Moore keeps all that pretty well in check, with the help of his two Neanderthal deputies, who enjoy using nightsticks on prisoners to extract information (while Chief Moore discreetly leaves the building, perhaps to visit his sometime fling, with whom he refuses to make any commitment).  There's a very small church in town, which has been expecting a new minister to arrive, and when he does, Chief Moore is immediately suspicious.  The congregation is all Hispanic, and this guy's Anglo.  He doesn't seem to have any i.d. on him, claiming he was robbed (well, the van he arrived in was broken into the first night he was in town, but he'd been warned that it wasn't safe to leave it on the street).  What the viewer already knows, but Chief Moore doesn't yet, is that the new preacher (Shea Whigmam) isn't really a man of the cloth at all.  He's a fugitive from justice, who was picked up as a hitchhiker by the real new minister, who unfortunately met an untimely demise, and was unceremoniously dumped in the old Quarry.  As it turns out, that's also the place where a local weed dealer keeps his stash, and it isn't long before he's the one accused of the murder, once the already-decomposing body is recovered.  The new preacher, meanwhile, tries to overcome the fact that he's taciturn by nature, and quite at a loss for words in the pulpit.  He takes to reading from the Bible, which the congregation seems to appreciate, even when he uses verses in answer to their questions.  When asked to pray, he simply begins "Our Father," and allows the rest of the worshippers to carry the rest.  The Chief, still suspicious, is quite offput by the very strange quotation that the preacher comes up with at a graveside service (it's not from any bible verse he'd ever heard).  So in this dilapidated, hardscrabble  town with the bedraggled residents and the cynical police, we have issues of great emotional and religious importance, like sin and guilt and forgiveness and estrangement and reconciliation.  How all these play out becomes the slowly-building tension in this small-scoped indie film that has few heroes, but a multitude of chicanery.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association