Out of the Black
Facts and Figures
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 25th July 2001
Distributed by: MTI Home Video
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 2.5 / 10
Out of the Black Review
The film finds us in rural Pennsylvania, where angsty twentysomething Cole Malby (Tyler Christopher) and his quiet brother Patrick (Jason Widener) butcher meat and fix electronics in order to pay for a life filled with beer drinking and hell raising. What's with all the hair tearing? Their father died in a mine explosion 13 years in the past. An accident? Or does Cole remember veiled threats and a gunshot when he visited his pop on that fateful day? Even worse was when the young Cole took a shot at his abusive old man, hitting mom (Sally Kirkland) instead.
Nothing much changes until the day when local business magnate Mr. Hart dies, and the state of his will starts to dredge up the past. It turns out that Hart actually owned the Malby farm, and his evil wife (Dee Wallace-Stone) is ready to evict. A city girl (Jacqueline Aries) shows up, claiming to be his long-lost daughter (and of course spawning a love triangle with our heroes). And then there's the matter of the truth about what happened in the mine...
Most of this is resolved (though some of it becomes unnecessarily convoluted along the way), making for an overall satisfying viewing experience. The film is impeccably made for an indie -- complete with an impressive car explosion and a surprisingly effective performance from Christopher. On the other hand, Kirkland's appearance as the mute and lame mother of the boys is so laughably bad it ruins the few scenes she is in. With over-the-top facial expressions, Kirkland tries to communicate her performance as if she was Lassie. It comes off so badly it turns serious moments into South Parkish comedy.
But the best news is Out of the Black's professionalism. We're seeing a real movie, shot on real 35mm film (I've seen way to many digital video-based features lately), using real actors (Sally Struthers, baby!), bearing a real musical score, and looking like something you could see playing at your local art house. Nothing's more distracting than an egomaniacal director/star who can't direct anyone else, much less himself. And fortunately, you'll find none of that amateurism here.
Pull my finger. Er, don't pull it.