SYNOPSIS: Inspired by true events, this tense thriller follows Detective Souder (Sam Worthington) a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)as they track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh locals call "The Killing Fields." Though the swampland crime scenes are outside their jurisdiction, Detective Heigh is unable to turn his back on solving the gruesome murders. Despite his partner’s warnings, he sets out to investigate the crimes. Before long, the killer changes the game and begins hunting the detectives, teasing them with possible clues at the crime scenes while always remaining one step ahead. When familiar local girl Anne (Chloë Grace Moretz Hugo, Let Me In) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life.


The biggest name to note here is not Sam Worthington but the director Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann who gave the world “Heat” and “Collateral”. Like his father who generally prefers telling gritty hard crime stories, the younger Mann chooses a crime genre for her second full-length feature. While supposedly inspired by true events, the end result is nothing more than a standard serial-killer, police drama that is hardly memorable.  

The plotting opens with two homicide detectives, Souder (Sam Worthington) and Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) investigating a local murder case involving a runaway teenager. Souder’s ex-wife, Pam (Jessica Chastain) also a detective in a nearby town requested help from the duo regarding a serial killer who has been dumping bodies in a marsh dubbed “The Killing Fields”. As the trio investigates, they realized the killer might be the same person they are looking for.

“Texas Killing Fields” for all it matters setup a really spooky atmosphere and location; you can even feel a sense of dread lingering. The place is filled with so many roughnecks that this reviewer probably won’t be able to survive 5 minutes without being beaten. However, the oh-so-boring, standard police investigating procedures, the lackluster pacing and the biggest sin of all, an incoherent plotting kills whatever mood the director has created. Essential characters and development goes nowhere say for examples, Heigh seems to have a terrible experience back in New York though never explained further and why did Souder has such a grudge with a suspecting character? There are plenty of interesting nuggets which writer Don Ferrarone has planted and conveniently left out for whatsoever reason.

Nearly two decades later, mentioned serial-killer and everyone can recall vividly David Fincher’s “Seven” and till now, no one has managed to topple his feat. “Texas Killing Fields” offers the same rainy drench mood, a car chase and a disturbing attack on an innocent woman with a baby. Fairly exciting on paper but everything comes loosely and unnecessary to the crucial plot point.

Worthington who is usually wooden as an action leading man actually delivers quite a sterling performance opposite the equally amazing Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen). Morgan is awesome as the religiously-inclined warm officer and Jessica Chastain’s (“The Tree of Life, “The Debt”) second screen appearance opposite Worthington as a feisty lady officer is worth a look. Chloe Grace Moretz from “Kick-Ass” sealed her place in Hollywood with yet another worthy performance as a troubled young girl from a dysfunctional family.

It’s unfair to compare Ami Canaan Mann with the senior Mann. Indeed, she has her father’s eye for visual, unfortunately lacks a proper script to showcase her talents.


The DVD only comes with a Trailer.


Somewhat shot digitally, the DVD transfer is solid for its intended grainy, murky feel. Dialogue is crisp and the soundtrack only pick up dynamically for a chase scene and a few gunshots.



Review by Linus Tee