Directed by Christopher Cain.
Written by Christopher Cain and Carole Whang Schutter.
Starring Trent Ford, Tamara Hope, Jon Voight and Terence Stamp.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 6/14/07
Although this film is due out until August
2007, there was a freebie at the local arthouse for "September Dawn"
and since the trailer I saw last month looked intriguing, I figured,
hey, what the fuck. (That, and the theater is like 10 minutes
from my house. Made things easy, I guess.)
Here's what I know after walking out of this
puppy--man, if you had reservations about the Mormon faith before,
you are REALLY gonna be watchin' your back after this one.
"Inspired by actual events", "September Dawn" concerns itself with
the September 1857 Utah massacre of more than 120 pioneers who were
on their way from Missouri and Arkansas to California, where they
had hoped to start a new life. Unfortunately, there were two
1) The pioneers were Christians;
2) Their murderers were PURPORTEDLY Mormons
(given that they were led by a Mormon, ordered by a Mormon, and
preached to by...Mormons) and the Mormons were still pissed off that
their boy Joseph Smith (played in a cameo by Dean Cain) had died at
the hands of the Gentiles in Missouri.
As the lead Mormon on the case, Jacob
Samuelson (Jon Voight) says it quite simply--you can't trust people
from Missouri. Okay, good enough! Slaughter ensues.
Even though you know that the slaughter is
coming--without it, we don't have much of a movie--co-writer and
director Christopher Cain patiently takes the time to give us a love
affair worth talking about, thanks to the secret love that Jacob's
son Jonathan (Trent Ford) has for horses and one of the Christian's
young beauties, Emily (Tamara Hope). This sideplot helps
balance the pure evil coming out of the mouths of the Mormon
characters in the film, who are generally posed as sexist,
bloodletting bastards who are willing to take whatever steps they
must to defend themselves from President Buchanan's army and
Gentiles, well, everywhere. I expect that this angle will lead
to the film being angrily denounced by the Mormon constituency,
since the tone is so one-note.
But, even if the Mormons are clean on this
one--jeez, who ever knows with these things--the story is still
compelling: why allow a peaceful train of more than a hundred
people, loaded with lots of women and children, to take about a week
to recover themselves from long travels on the road only to
slaughter them all? Why were about 15 children spared while
other children, in some cases younger than those spared, murdered?
Why was only one person convicted and executed in the eventual case?
(That one person was, in fact, Mormon.) The film poses an
interesting debate even if it totally forgets to be fair in the
The release date for "September Dawn" has
been bumped three times now, from April to June to (as of now)
August...hopefully, this one sees the light of day. It is well
done and the young actors were interesting to me, although far from
perfect; Terence Stamp's evil portrayal of Brigham Young is great,
and Voight always does the intense old crazy guy bit well.
Check it out if you can!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard