America’s militia culture comes under the microscope in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, the new movie from director Henry Dunham. The story follows Gannon (James Badge Dale), a former police officer who realizes he may know something about the people involved in a mass shooting at another officer’s funeral.
Worried that things will go badly as the police close in on the suspects, Gannon brings the current members of the militia he belongs to together in a remote lumber mill. There he sets about questioning them himself, seeking to get to the truth that might be missed by others.
There’s no copy that explains the story on the poster. Instead the plot is conveyed through an image of a man, shown from the back with his face unseen, opening up a storage locker to reveal a significant cache of rifles and other weapons. That sends the message that this is somehow about militia members or others who have stockpiled guns for their own reasons and beliefs.
The second poster shows the meeting of militia members in the warehouse, Dale’s pensive and concerned face hovering over the photo. It’s a nice stark one-sheet that, through the design and typeface used, evokes some of the posters from 1970s dramatic thrillers. Again, there’s no explanatory copy here, just the hope the audience gets the vibe of the movie off the image presented.
The first trailer didn’t drop until early December. It starts off with a group of men talking about how some sort of confrontation with the police has turned out poorly and now they have a situation on their hands that needs to be dealt with. As the pressure from law enforcement increases so does the tension within the group, generating mistrust and paranoia right up to the end as they hide from a patrol snooping around their hiding spot.
There’s still not much of the story presented here, at least not in linear, easily-understood fashion. Instead it’s about establishing a sense of mystery and dread, promising discerning audiences a gripping thriller.
Online and Social
There’s not much information on the single page established by RLJE Entertainment for the film, just the trailer and a synopsis. The studio promoted the movie on its brand social channels but that’s it.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen on the paid front, though it’s likely there’s been some online advertising done that points to the movie’s VOD options.
Media and Publicity
The movie’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival turned out pretty well, as it was acquired by RLJE Films during the festival.
Doesn’t seem to have been much in the way of publicity or media action for the movie since its’ film festival appearances, which is surprising.
RLJE has focused on selling the tone of the movie more than the story, offering only vague, sideways hints at what’s actually going on while promising lots of people acting shady while asking other people questions. An abbreviated campaign that doesn’t do much to actually convey what seems to be the core value proposition of the film isn’t going to help it cut through much of the media clutter, though.