SXSW Film Festival Review: BROTHER’S NEST (2018)

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the neo-noir feature BROTHER’S NEST (2018) by director Clayton Jacobson.  To best describe the story, I will use my own summary:

Two brothers plan the perfect murder, but as they await their victim’s arrival long buried problems begin to surface.

From the beginning there is a level of desolation about this piece that clues us into the direction of events.  The vast emptiness of the setting is just the sort of place where things often take a turn for the worst, and this film follows that pattern.  As things spiral out of control the surroundings take on a whole new light as it seems as if the characters are fighting to attain ownership of the grungy looking property.

In fact, the brothers’ grim plans are made known to us early on so it quickly becomes clear that the first hitch in their plot is the fact that only one of them expected to be playing a waiting game.  Much like our leads, we spend the runtime of the movie waiting, secretly sensing that something is bound to go wrong.  As such, each barb, each mini-revelation, and each action comes under scrutiny as we wait for things to come undone.  The tension this builds is palpable as it adds a sinister depth to the relationship of the two brothers.

The brothers are played to absolute perfection by real life siblings Shane and Clayton Jacobson.  The two have a natural chemistry that made me believe they were actually related to one another before I realized that they were in fact from the same family tree.  Thanks to the fact that they are real brothers and their strong performances, it is easy to relate to their characters even as we watch them struggle to understand one another.  In fact, it might be their inability to grasp the other’s motives that makes them all the more easy to empathize with since most of us probably have one or more family members to whom we just cannot relate.

When things do finally go sideways, there is an organization to the chaos that is absolutely wonderful to behold.  In fact, one of the tricks they pulled actually had me intake my breath in surprise because I had never even considered the possibility of that particular instance.  From a feelings standpoint, seeing the events keep getting worse and worse as the story unfolded felt incredibly appropriate within the confines of the dingy setting.

All in all, this is an incredibly well acted neo-noir that drags its characters down into the mud they are fighting over.  The orchestration of the events requires some patience, but the descent is brutal once it gets underway.  Fans of the Coen Brothers’ dark masterpieces Fargo (1996) or Blood Simple(1984) will definitely appreciate what this little gem has to offer.

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