Texas Killing Fields is a strong, straightforward crime thriller which tells the story of three cops running the gauntlet in an attempt to solve two brutal crimes. But the film is particularly notable for its haunting tone and superlative acting.
Director Ami Canaan Mann does everything she can to give the movie an infectious gloom, an impressive imitation of the sprawling claustrophobia specific to Southern poverty. Mann, daughter of the legendary Michael Mann (who also co-produced the film), makes a lot of smart choices here, but none more crucial than the cast.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sam Worthington bring their own unique intensity to their natural good cop/bad cop relationship, and a pre-Oscar nomination Jessica Chastain (The Help) brings a fiery quality to a supporting role. As usual, the 12-year-old Chloe Moretz shows remarkably advanced nuance for an actor her age.
The Blu-Ray’s only special feature is an audio commentary track by director Mann and screenwriter Donald F. Ferrarone. The two spend most of their time pointing out their attention to detail and adherence to reality.
The film is marketed as being “inspired by true events”, and that really shows in the story. The plotlines are messy, the conclusion not totally satisfactory. This is likely to frustrate many viewers but is definitely true to life.