I’m impressed by anyone who spends years to make a feature film and achieves their vision, but more than often, the end result is unsuccessful as a narrative. The Texas-lensed drama “Between Heaven and Hell” is another example “ its heart is in the right place, but the amateurish talent can’t pull it off.
As with many ultra-indie films, there’s an over-reliance on voiceover, when it’s not even needed. Here, it’s used to allow drunken Mike Taylor (Marvin Faulkner, also the screenwriter and executive producer) to share bits of homespun wisdom, i.e. “I believe in blessings and pain,” “I don’t know why we run from pain “ sooner or later, it finds us” and “I wanna go stare at some titties and some ass! … I need to just get stone-assed drunk. No, I’m not gonna take on a whore. I sort of feel like it, though.”
Grieving over his wife’s death, Mike drowns his sorrows at a strip club, and outside, post-puke, witnesses one of the girls being killed. With a hazy memory and flimsy evidence, he takes his story to a meathead cop (Jeff Wallin) who replies in disbelief, but is really just covering something up, because his rich, married brother (Andrew Sensenig) had been carrying on an affair with the girl.
So begins a soul-searching story of a guy trying to make amends for the wrongs in his life while also continuing to poke his nose where it doesn’t belong, just because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
Faulkner, who has admitted to a reporter that they “had no idea” what they were doing when shooting the film, is likable, but wooden. He has a genuine nature to get you on his side, but not the dramatic heft to carry the key emotional scenes. In one bizarre moment, he takes a sackful of various kinds of apples into the woods, sampling several as he angrily converses with God. It’s meant to be important and enlightening; unfortunately, it comes off as unintentionally hilarious, like an outtake from “The Room.”
It’s then that the film veers into the realm of religious allegory, culminating in a rather clich