Richard Dutcher?s Brigham City is a rare find in the recent onslaught of murky religion-based thrillers and Satanic conspiracies--a modern crime thriller with a powerful and passionate spiritual message. In some ways it p... more »lays like a contemporary Western, with Dutcher as the upright county sheriff and local church bishop of a rural Utah town terrorized by a serial killer. Like the marshal of a peaceful frontier community, he first tries to shield his town from the horror, then pulls the good churchgoing citizens into a veritable posse. His cinematic skills may be a bit clumsy and his modern take on frontier justice na´ve, but his heart is in the right place. He creates a portrait of family values, community ties, and neighborly caring with an honest, unaffected forthrightness. Ultimately, fear and suspicion is the real snake in Eden. --Sean Axmaker« less
""Brigham City" is a startling and original movie, and it marks writer/director/star Richard Dutcher as a talent to watch. It's a film-noirish murder mystery as imagined from the Mormon worldview. Dutcher plays the sheriff of a small Utah town who is also the local LDS bishop. The sheltered little place is confronted by the harsh realities of the outside world when a serial killer comes to town. The film is ultimately about what happens to faith in the face of the starkest human tragedy. It's been compared to "Fargo": comparisons to Peter Weir's "Witness" and the stories of Flannery O' Connor would also be appropriate. Some mechanics of the story are a little shaky, but the power of the performances, atmospheric authenticity, characterizations and themes more than make up for it. 2001 was a good year for film noir, with "Memento", "The Man Who Wasn't There", "In The Bedroom", and this movie. If you are a fan of independent film who looks for something more than the usual Hollywood product, you really should check out "Brigham City.""
You don't have to be a Mormon...
R. W. Rasband | 05/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not Mormon, or even religious, but I found this a very thought-provoking and enjoyable movie. Instead of pounding the viewer on the head with a Bible (anybody see "The Omega Code"?), director Dutcher focuses on the ubiquity of the Mormon faith in the town of Brigham City. That faith has bound the main character's community together, making it a place where the outside world cannot enter--the protagonist, Wes, won't listen to National Public Radio because he feels the news has no bearing on his life. And he likes it that way, too. The film's conflict comes from the tension between the peace of the community and the fear of the world outside. Should Brigham City keep everyone calm by pretending that the violence never happened, or will doing that amount to clearing the way for further sad events? Wes, as the sheriff, tries desperately to maintain a balance of acting for his community and protecting it from tragedy.The story is paced just right, with enough suspense to keep you watching. The characters are well-developed with no "Mainstreet USA" yokels or stereotypical Mormons--Wil Brimley as former sheriff Stu battles his conscience over cigarettes, and a local bar does a thriving business. The cinematography is excellent, with a lot of breathtaking shots of the desert scenery.Even so, my main recommendation for this film is that (in spite of one or two mildly gory scenes that might not be good for those under 10) it's a "family" film with none of the forced quality that so many "family" films have. It examines things you want to discuss with young people, like faith and trust, without any cheesiness of either the religious or the Hollywood variety. Brigham City is a believable story with a believable resolution that people of any religious persuasion can understand and appreciate."
""Brigham City" is a tight, intense, and above all, thought provoking murder mystery.Forget the wannabe critics like myself, this movie received high praise from many (if not most) of the nation's most revered movie critics. For example: "The perfomances are impeccable..." - NY Times / "...tense, well-spun murder mystery" - Mr. Showbiz / "...involving, nicely crafted whodunit" - Hollywood Reporter / "...a thoughtful film that deserves a wider audience" - Chicago Tribune / "A tight and surprisingly effective murder mystery." - TV Guide's Movie Guide.Richard Dutcher successfully broke new ground with God's Army by all but inventing the "Mormon Film" genre. Regardless of whether or not you liked God's Army, it's surprise success established Dutcher as a formidable writer/director.While short of being flawless, "Brigham City" continues Dutcher's success streak (allbeit short-lived) to 2 of 2, and more importantly, it raises the bar significantly. This is a better, more ambitious movie than "God's Army!"I liked and enjoyed "God's Army," but "Brigham City" succeeded on so many more levels. It was truly creepy, intense and most importantly, complex. It dared ask some of life's darkest and most difficult questions. Questions like, Does evil prey upon innocence? and, Why does God allow suffering and tragedy to apparently devastate the lives of good people? Without providing clear answers, viewers are left to contemplate and discuss these questions long after the film is over.Yes there are religious (Mormon) overtones to this movie. However, this time around, they are less of an infomercial for Mormonism, and more central to the movies more important themes of original innocence, innocence lost, and ultimately forgiveness. In summary, a majority of the critics can't all be wrong. This is a great movie as well as an original movie. Where else will you see a murder mystery that is capable of spiritually moving you and disturbing you at the same time?"
Brigham City is not Fargo--Thank goodness.
Marleen Van Horne | San Jose, CA USA | 12/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Dutcher wrote, directed and starred in Brigham City. It is as if he looked at Fargo, made a list of all that movies defects, and set about making a movie correcting them.Brigham City is a murder mystery, in which a serial killer suddenly starts eliminating young women in a small Utah town. The sheriff who must find the killer, is also a Morman bishop. The job makes demands, that as a man of faith the sheriff would prefer not to confront.The murders are grisley, but the details are left to the imagination. The police work portrayed in the story is accurate. The acting is so fine, the people of Brigham City are real enough to be your neighbors. The story is interesting and the suspense builds steadily to the aprehension of the murderer. The murderer is an arrogantly cool psychotic. And most significantly of all, the entire story actually takes place in Brigham City.This is a story of a good man doing a difficult job. Go see this movie, you will like it."
Mormon Cops....What a Concept!
Philip D. Rasband | Salt Lake City, Utah United States | 05/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had been waiting for this one to come out on DVD for a long time. You see, I am LDS and a police officer. From my own experiences, I know it can be difficult to manage at times the quandary of duty to God and duty to man. I feel that Mr. Dutcher's film does this dilemma, to make a bad pun, "justice". Mr. Dutcher plays the lead role in the film, Wes Clayton, a sheriff in a small Utah town. At first, Wes seems like......sort of a dumb redneck. And I mean that in a good way. His beliefs almost seem child-like. However, as the movie progresses, Wes rises to the challenge to find the serial killer who terrorizes the town he is responsible for. Wes is also a Mormon bishop in the town, and so is looked at not just as the local law enforcement leader but as a spiritual leader as well. He handles the situation admireably.I won't give away the plot; suffice it to say the film comes to a shocking yet satisfying ending. Also, at the risk of sounding like a prude, mainstream Hollywood directors could learn a lot from Mr. Dutcher's subtle approach to the subject matter. The film easily gets some unpleasant ideas across without being over the top in violence and sexual subject matter. Do yourself and your family and friends a favor. Buy this DVD and share it with as many people as you can."