Stars: Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, David Arquette
This is a very interesting but grisly and bizarre tale of cannibalism in 1847 at the time of the Mexican-American War. It’s a very good mood piece that takes place in the snowy country of the high Sierra-Nevada mountains of northern California.
A soldier, Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce), shows cowardice during the war and is promptly transferred to Fort Spencer which is little more than a waystation for travelers and passing soldiers. There he meets a bunch of misfits: Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones); Privates Cleaves (David Arquette), Toffler and Richt, Major Knox, an Indian scout, George and his sister Martha.
Just while Boyd is trying to settle in, a stranger, Calqhoun (Robert Carlyle), comes to camp telling of bizarre story of members of his wagon train being lost in the mountains, starvation, murder and finally cannibalism. Despite warnings from the Indians who tell of a myth surrounding flesh eaters, most of the Fort’s soldiers head on a trek to save one woman believed to be a survivor of the wagon train. Calqhoun leads them to a cave where he said the killings took place.
The story has very nicely set a vampire-type myth in a very unexpected setting with excellent character development, and mood.
Guy Pearce is very effective as the coward Boyd who must cope with his fear amid dire circumstances and eventually make a life or death decision. And Robert Carlyle shows nice versatility as the stranger who sets the tale moving. In fact, I liked all the characters and found the story rather exceptional all around with sufficient twists to keep the interest up.
Lotta says this has more psychological bend than gore or fright; but a good tale it is.