A Prayer for the Damned (2020)

aprayerforthedamned

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A man attempts to go against the odds for a rare treasure in this indie Western, which takes quite a twist in the finale.

It is the year 1878, thirteen years since the end of the Civil War. Cole is a bounty hunter who has arrived on horseback to the small town of Sudden, New Mexico. However, he is very hurt as he has been shot in the back. Nursed by Dr. Harrigan, Cole slowly finds himself recuperating and returning home to his woman, playing card expert Mattie. Cole has one half of a map that is said to lead to a fortune in Confederate gold and Cole is hellbent on getting to the treasure. However, he is not the only one after the gold.

The Preacher, a demented man who follows the word of the Lord, has the other half of the map. He is the one who shot Cole with the intent on getting the gold for himself. Despite warnings from Mattie and even the Sheriff to not pursue the gold, Cole is hellbent on getting the gold, so he and Mattie can once and for all, live a peaceful life. However, what will happen when he and the Preacher once again cross paths. Who will come out on top and with the gold?

Written and directed by Joe Cornet, who also plays the protagonist in Cole, this film at first seems like a run-of-the-mill Western about the search for a treasure trove of gold the Confederacy left behind during the Civil War. However, towards the last act of the film, Cornet drops a major twist in the story and it may have the tendency to leave the viewer to drop their mouth because it comes in unexpected and it is not a bad twist at all. On the contrary, it is a very well-thought out twist and one thing will come to mind come the film’s finale.

Aside from Cornet, kudos must also go out to Dianna Renee as Mattie, Cornet’s woman, who is strong herself when it comes to her expertise at playing cards and even though she urges Cole not to find the gold, stands by him anyway. James Henderson is pretty good as the doctor who nurses our hero back and tends to offer some good advice to Cole as he recuperates. Buddy Clements is pretty comical at times as Sheriff Duncan, especially when he attempts to speak Spanish to Cole when he gives him advice about staying away from the gold.

Movies tend to have some over-the-top villains and this one has no exceptions. Curt Lambert’s villainous Preacher is very over the top. As he arrives, he makes his name known and begins to shout out the word of the Lord but pushes the boundary between preaching and going to extreme methods against sins. In one instance, he robs a brothel after preaching the word about “the oldest profession in the world”. While he may have somewhat good intentions for his wanting the gold, it is his actions that make him a very psychotic man of God. It is as if he takes Guy Pearce’s dangerous Preacher from Brimstone and amps it up to a 100 in terms of his performance.

A Prayer for the Damned starts out as a run-of-the-mill Western with an over-the-top villain. However, it finds redemption in the jaw-dropping twist that is unexpected and leads to a sense of justification. Ultimately, a pretty good debut for filmmaker Joe Cornet.

WFG RATING: B-

Random Media presents a San Rafael production. Director: Joe Cornet. Producer: Joe Cornet. Writer: Joe Cornet. Cinematography: Bryan Harris. Editing: Bryan Harris.

Cast: Joe Cornet, Dianna Renee, Curt Lambert, Buddy Clements, James Henderson, Vitta Quinn, Lisa Race, Robert Coffie.

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