SXSW REVIEW — “The Cow”
Moo… more like Boo!
The Cow is directed by Eli Horowitz, written by Horowitz and Matthew Derby, and stars Winona Ryder, Dermot Mulroney, John Gallagher Jr., Owen Teague, and Brianne Tju. It tells the story of Kath and her boyfriend as they find a mysterious younger couple that has already booked and arrived at their secluded rental in the woods. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined. The strength of the performances and a few inspired moments can’t save The Cow from a ridiculous narrative and sloppy writing. This one was not for me folks!
Eli Horowitz makes his debut here and I hate to be that guy, but you can tell. Not to say The Cow is a terrible film, it’s far from it. Incredibly competent and well-executed, on the surface, this is a fine and inoffensive movie. The problems arise as the story develops. Plot points are often very contrived and non-sensical, culminating in an almost absurd and totally unnatural ending that will leave you going “huh”. Characters don’t act like real human beings and their motivations are forced and not really based in reality. The film starts fine enough and somewhat develops into a nice little moody thriller but as we approach the end, as an audience member I completely lost investment.
Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney are both genuinely good here, giving nuanced and understated performances. Their chemistry is very strong and both are just naturals on the screen. Even when their characters and dialogue go completely off the deep end, they try their best to make it work. John Gallagher Jr. and Owen Teague are both always nice additions to any film and do a great job. Brianne Tju is the most hurt by the less-than-stellar script as she is given the majority of the… not-so-good stuff. Her performance is strong and it’s clear she’s giving her all, but she’s giving it all to a script that might not deserve it.
In short, while The Cow shows promise, it doesn’t amount to much of anything. 2/5