Brimstone, Dutch writer/director Martin Koolhoven’s passion project, is a two-and-a-half hour long Western/horror movie that was seven years in the making. Although calling it a Western might be stretching things. It happens to be set in the Old West, but that’s about the gist of it.
The movie starts off with Dakota Fanning playing a midwife in a frontier farm town. When the new reverend (Guy Pearce) arrives, she is scared shitless from the word go. At this point you don’t know why and as we descend into madness further down the road, you might find yourself wishing it stayed that way. After the reverend has delivered his sermon, a woman’s water breaks and Liz has to help the woman right there in the church. Unfortunately she has to make a choice that will result in the death of either the mother or the child. She chooses to spare the mother and soon after both the reverend and the woman’s husband get all up in her face.
From there on, things unravel quickly and end with her, her daughter and stepson fleeing away. Then, the movie switches to another chapter that tells a seemingly unrelated story about a girl running away from something terrible and ending up being sold to a brothel. Once again, the reverend – a younger version – shows up and violence ensues. Then there’s another chapter (Exodus) that tells yet another seeming unrelated story.
To keep things short, the stories – like the female characters the reverend is trying to have sex with – are all related. Eww, right? Yeah, some of the scenes will make you want to take a shower. And I fail to see why Brimstone had to drag on for well over two hours. Yet I kept watching. If only because at this point I had already invested well over an hour into this movie and wanted to find out how it ended. But what it boils down to… and I feel bad saying it because Koolhoven invested seven years of his life in this project… Brimstone is just not a very good movie. It fails as a drama, it’s too slow to be called a thrilling horror movie and even gore lovers will be left disappointed.