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The Independent Critic

Jim Dougherty, Thomas J. Smith, Libby McDermott, Raymond Kester, Jim Hunter
John Taylor
Rated PG-13
100 Mins.

 "Leach: The Movie" Review 
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Easily the darkest of Indiana filmmaker John Taylor's feature films, Leach: The Movie centers around Wes (Jim Dougherty), a recovering alcoholic and aspiring filmmaker whose chance encounter with police detective Ron Leach (Thomas J. Smith) at first seems like a golden opportunity but quickly spirals into something much more harrowing.

Using the tagline "Even Evil has a Dark Side," Leach: The Movie rather quickly establishes itself as a no holds barred, brutally honest character study of two men who both seem willing to do what it takes to succeed. It would appear, perhaps, that the two men have different definitions of what it means to succeed and what exactly their willing to do, a difference that leads to Wes's ever increasing struggle to do what it takes to protect his family.

Leach: The Movie proves a couple of things - First, writer/director John Taylor has a remarkable ability to capture the spirit and dual nature of humanity. The script for Leach feels almost like a Todd Solondz creation in the way that Taylor is able to create in Wes a character who isn't particularly appealing but whose layered humanity elicits a deep emotional response. Wes isn't sympathetic, but in the context of the world that surrounds him his story becomes impossible to ignore. Whether you want to or not, you will care about Wes and the dilemma into which he is placed. It's a major credit to Jim Dougherty that Wes becomes a man whose appeal really is that he's just not quite as perversely bad as the corrupt cop with whom he now shares so much. Similarly, it is to the credit of Thomas J. Smith, who bears a striking resemblance to actor Ron Livingston here, that Detective Leach is so uncomfortably human even in the midst of his obvious depravity.

Working for the first time with an actual budget, estimated right around $20,000, Taylor is clearly willing to go the extra mile and even in the film's opening credits it becomes apparent that Taylor wants Leach: The Movie to have a longer festival and DVD shelf life. While attempting this genre on what is still an incredibly modest budget is infinitely challenging, Taylor's compelling story gives the film that extra push needed even when the tech quality doesn't quite measure up.

Matt Stahley again serves as Taylor's D.P., and continues to grow in terms of the images he creates and their ability to really companion the story. Les Taylor's original music also complements the film quite nicely, while Jim Dougherty contributes simple yet effective visual effects.

For more information on Leach: The Movie, visit the Leach website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic