Underrated Gem: Seraphim Falls (2006)

No one ever seems to talk about this movie and I suppose I can understand why it wasn’t a commercial success: A) it’s a Western and they rarely make a lot of money and B) it goes on for a little too long lacking a bullet riddled finale but goes for a more cerebral and surreal approach.

If you can get past that however, Seraphim Falls is a beautifully shot meditation on obsession and most importantly forgiveness.

It stars Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson at their absolute best with Brosnan in particular looking like he went through Hell for this movie.

Pierce plays Gideon, a former Union officer, finds himself the prey of a manhunt led by Carver (Neeson), Gideon’s Civil-War nemesis. Carver blames Gideon for a horrible war crime and refuses to give up the chase until his vengeance is complete. Gideon, though wounded, manages to stay one step ahead of his pursuers, until he and his mortal enemy meet in a final inevitable showdown.

The first half feels a little like Bronson’s Death Hunt with a side order of First Blood as Gideon desperately tries to survive in the snowy wilderness as he is pursued by Carver and his paid mercenaries including the always fantastic Michael Wincott.

The second half goes a little more bizarre and spiritual as they both come across Charon (Wes Studi) who as we all know is the ferryman to the underworld but then there is also Madame Louise played by the magnificent Anjelica Houston who I believe is in fact the Devil tempting the men at their very last moments before the climax.

There is certainly more action in the first half but I loved the very different direction the film goes in and despite the fact you know where the story will go by the finale I still found it engaging and thoroughly satisfying. There are shoot-outs, fights and just an unnerving tension throughout which kept me on the edge of my seat.

Everything looks and feels authentic from the costumes to the fact that people actually have dirty teeth which is something we rarely get to see in Hollywood movies. For the first half you are wondering what Gideon did that was so wrong to be worth chasing through every kind of weather and when you find out you will completely understand both sides.

It may lack the explosive bullet-riddled finale you would maybe want from a Western but 12 years later Seraphim Falls remains a fascinating oddity that’s worth revisiting simply to see Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson giving it their all physically and emotionally.