Plot Summary: George Jones invites an up-and-coming country music superstar out on the town in Nashville the night before George is to be cryogenically frozen in 1994.
Mickey Reece is an interesting filmmaker to say the least. It’s only really been since 2019’s Climate of the Hunter that I started to pay attention to his work. I would say that the actor and director is, shall we say, an acquired taste. However, I think I am starting to be transfixed by his unique take on storytelling. Reece’s follow up to Agnes, a gothic horror film, couldn’t be more different.
Fans who are wanting another horror film instead got Country Gold, a stripped down, barebones slice of Americana. I think it’s refreshing that Reece doesn’t allow himself to get boxed into one specific genre. This film is certainly not as weird as some of his earlier works, but it feels like the filmmaker is trying to grow as an artist. The entire film has an odd quiet eeriness that is engaging. There are still more overt gonzo flourishes; the famed country singer being re-imagined as a former hitman and CIA informant is a prime example of this. Oh, and there is a singing fetus just in case you forgot you were watching a Reece movie.
This movie feels like a very personal meditation on art, meeting one’s heroes and the true price of fame and fortune. While the premise is painfully simple, it is told with such raw, honest conviction that you can’t help but engage with it on some level. However, as much as I enjoyed the movie, it still has some issues. Largely, this movie hovers in this awkward space between being maybe slightly too unconventional for a normal crowd but not strange enough for midnight film fans. For as moving as it is, at the end of the day it is a very by-the-numbers drama with a few crazy things sprinkled throughout. When all is said and done, it would be hard to say who exactly this movie is for. There is also narration that feels like an afterthought and, in my opinion, didn’t really need to be there.
George Jones is played by Reece regular Ben Hall, and he is a tasked with being the emotional centerpiece to this film. Placing all your chips on one actor might be risky, but thankfully Hall does a fantastic job at playing his version of the country music legend. Seriously, the actor knows exactly how far to take this character without going full parody, and towards the end of the film, he really bares his soul in some gut-wrenching moments.
Then you have the director Mickey Reece who plays Troy Brooks. Clearly, this is a not-so-subtle stand-in for Garth Brooks. Not only are the names similar, but Reece has an uncanny resemblance to the rock-country singer. I really wish I could say that Reece is good in his own film, but he is not. This is especially bad when Hall and Reece share scenes together, which is a lot of them. This is kind of wild when you consider the fact that Reece still books acting jobs outside of his own projects. This also includes other Reece regulars like John Selvidge and Ginger Gilmartin.
It is fair to say that Country Gold is a unique movie. What on paper feels like a short film one might do in film school is elevated by Reece’s quirky charms and a fantastic lead performance by Hall. The movie has its issues, but I think its overall an enjoyable entry into Mickey’s filmography.
Country Gold had its World Premiere at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival.
Directors: Mickey Reece
Cast: Ben Hall, Mickey Reece, Ginger Gilmartain, Cate Jones
The movie has its issues, but I think its overall an enjoyable entry into Mickey’s filmography.
Big film nerd and TCM Obsessed. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema from Schiffer Publishing. Resume includes: AMC’s The Bite, Scream Magazine etc. Love all kinds of movies and television and have interviewed a wide range of actors, writers, producers and directors. I currently am a regular co-host on the podcast The Humanoids from the Deep Dive and have a second book in the works from Bear Manor.