"There are demons, and they have a sick sense of humor"
Nov 8, 2008
It's the rural redneck life for the Munn family. John Munn (Dermot Mulroney) and his two sons, teenage Chris (Jamie Bell) and young Tim (Devon Alan) live in rural Georgia on a ramshackle pig farm. Chris works hard on the farm for his father, but young Tim is sickly and can't help much. (Mostly because we see this strange child eating bugs, dirt, and even paint)
Chris is a more than typically angst-ridden teenager, with a crush on a girl he isn't allowed to see, and angry because his father keeps him stuck on the farm working all day. He's been in trouble with the local law several times, but nonetheless we see that this family loves each other.
Then John's brother Deel (Josh Lucas) shows up in a fancy car, fresh out of prison. Deel wants to know what happened to the Mexican gold coins their father willed to the two boys. When John tells him the place was ransacked after their father's death and that everything was taken, Deel turns to the boys to find out what really happened to the coins. When the boys ask their father, John tells the boys about them, how they were bad luck because they came from Charon the Ferryman, who ferries souls across the river Styx in hell.
Deel is undaunted though, and in finding the coins causes a confrontation that results in tragedy. Chris grabs Tim and the coins and makes a run for it. The boys wander on foot through Drees County, encountering all types of rural rednecks. For awhile, the movie felt like "Redneck Reality TV", but this didn't cause me to lose interest.
They boys meet families and dockworkers and work for food wherever they can, until running across a beaten whore, Violet (Shiri Appleby). Violet takes the boys to her "community", a vast, covered, outdoor camp of forgotten people. But Deel is hot on their trail, still looking for the coins that he returned to his brother for. It is here that confrontation will arise, and the ending will leave you with a few questions.
'Undertow' is not a face-paced movie. While mildly suspenseful in places, it is more a languid trip through the underside of humanity. The photography is beautiful, the scenery suitably wet and fecund, and the performances excellent, even from young Devon Alan. Tim's aimless monologue on Chiggers was actually quite entertaining.
Even slow moving and with only one blood scene, I still liked this movie. My major complaints would be the slow points and an often inappropriate soundtrack. Still, 'Undertow' is very much worth a rent, perhaps even a buy. Enjoy!