Another Hollywood production ventures into the sticks, with results that are predictably droll, dry and homicidal.
Now that she’s cut director Peter Dunmore out of Frontier Woman, “the Eat, Pray, Love of the nineteenth century,” just as it’s about to begin shooting in Woodstock, N.Y., scheming producer Sam Sawchuk is ready to install her husband and producing partner, gutless rookie Robb Fetterman, in his place. Little does Sam know she’s about to be outmaneuvered by two new colleagues even sharper than she is. When she approaches suspiciously red-haired Indian casino owner Ronnie Red Hawk for the last $6 million she needs to shoot the picture, he responds by writing a check and then grabbing the reins from Sam’s Big Deal Productions. Virgil Cain, the Woodstock farmer last seen under arrest for murder in Red Means Run (2012), demonstrates a quieter, funnier mode of resistance once he and a pair of Percherons he’s nursing back to health are hired for some background shots. Virgil befriends all the wrong people, from veteran second-unit director Tommy Alamosa to 10-year-old actress Georgia Lee Thompson, and gets under the skin of self-important types like Robb and producer Levi Brown. The death of leading lady Olivia Burns, well-liked but scarcely mourned by the hard-bitten crew of Frontier Woman, sets the stage for Ronnie to replace her with starlet Kari Karson, who’s better known for her tabloid exploits than her acting chops. There’ll be more violent deaths, but the criminal byplay is less engaging than the puncturing of the Hollywood blowhards by the country bumpkins who run rings around them.
Smith’s slyly entertaining satire makes it easy to overlook the perfunctory, forgettable mystery.