Peace in the Valley deals with the immediate effects of gun violence so if this is a triggering topic, please consider yourself warned.
There’s no denying that gun violence is a serious issue in our country. But very rarely do films seek to explore the psychological trauma that comes with the violence. Moreover, the problem with this film is that it comes one year after two other films touched on the subject, Mass and The Fallout. Unlike those two films, this one struggles to keep our attention. Listen, I give credit to the filmmakers for trying because they focus on an aspect that usually gets ignored. But let me tell you, it’s very bad when a film starts to become background noise. This was my first film on Monday so it wasn’t like I was exhausted from heat or a long day. And again, it also speaks to how both Mass and The Fallout are much better films.
It is very trying to make any sense out of these tragedies and you always feel bad for the victims of the gunman or gunwoman. In this instance, Ashley Rhodes (Brit Shaw) is shopping at a supermarket with her husband, John (Michael Abbott Jr.), and son, Jesse (William Samiri). Chaos begins to ensue when shots are fired inside. John is both a firefighter and a military veteran. He quickly gets into hero action and sacrifices his life as he goes after the attacker. Not even his heroic death is able to help Ashley in her grief. As if his death isn’t already a problem, Jesse has an interest in hunting, which means guns are going to be nearby for sometime to come.
Michael Abbott Jr. also portrays John’s identical twin brother, Billy. Ashley isn’t in the best of places when Billy enters their life. I mean, the family is grieving and her comes this guy that looks just like your dead husband/father. It only adds another layer to the family situation at hand.
What Peace in the Valley shows is the side of gun violence that we rarely see in movies or on television but at the same time, this is the type of film that can quickly become background noise. Their deaths are more than just a news story. It feels like there is another senseless tragedy taking place every day. More often than not, the news focuses on the gunman and what their motives may have been. But depending on what network you watch, they might focus on the victims. This film treats the gunman correctly: no naming or glorifying them. There are better films that deal with the after-effects but unfortunately, this is not one of them.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Tyler Riggs
CAST: Brit Shaw, Michael Abbott Jr., William Samiri, and Dendrie Taylor
Peace in the Valley holds its world premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival in the Viewpoints program. Grade: 2.5/5
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