Written and directed by Henry Dunham, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek details the paranoia that ensues after the member of a small militia engages in a mass shooting against police officers – with the movie following James Badge Dale’s Gannon as he attempts to figure out which individual is behind the incendiary attack. Filmmaker Dunham does a pretty fantastic job of initially luring the viewer into the low-key proceedings, as the movie’s somewhat irresistible setup seems to promise a bizarre yet compelling blend of Reservoir Dogs and The Thing – although, as becomes clear fairly quickly, Dunham doesn’t really have much of a plan beyond the striking premise. The bulk of The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is devoted to increasingly tedious interrogation sequences between suspicious militia members and Dale’s one-note character, with Dunham’s stagy, egregiously talky screenplay compounded by an emphasis on dimly-lit visuals and a pace that’s often punishingly deliberate (ie there is, in terms of the latter, absolutely no momentum at work here). It consequently goes without saying that Dunham’s ongoing efforts at establishing a tense atmosphere of escalating paranoia fall hopelessly flat, and although the inevitable standoff, when it finally does arrive, is admittedly quite impressive (and legitimately suspenseful), The Standoff at Sparrow Creek‘s pervasively uninvolving and underwhelming vibe has long-since rendered its few positive attributes moot.
* out of ****