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"Texas Killing Fields," ripped from the television crime drama

LANA BERKOWIT, Houston Chronicle
Updated 7:48 pm, Thursday, October 20, 2011
  • ANCHOR BAY FILMS
MURDER MYSTERY: Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Anne in Texas Killing Fields. Photo: Gusmano Cesaretti
    ANCHOR BAY FILMS MURDER MYSTERY: Chloë Grace Moretz stars as Anne in Texas Killing Fields. Photo: Gusmano Cesaretti

 

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TEXAS KILLING FIELDS

Rated R: for violence and language including some sexual references

Running time: 105 minutes

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Texas Killing Fields is a stylish police mystery inspired by the unsolved murders of females abducted during the past 40 years in the Houston area and a dump site near League City sometimes called "the killing fields."

In director Ami Canaan Mann's film, a fictional teenager represents the crime victims in a story told from the perspectives of two Texas City detectives, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sam Worthington.

The characters will be familiar to fans of police procedural shows and TV movies.

Here is the breakdown:

Good cop: Detective Brian Heigh (Morgan) is a New York transplant working in Texas City. He prays over bodies and keeps a map of all the missing women in the Houston area, although the cases are outside his jurisdiction.

Bad cop: Detective Mike Souder (Worthington) is more angry than bad. Very angry. There are hints of a hard upbringing, but he has a dog, so he must have a sensitive side.

Female cop: Detective Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain), the ex-wife of Souder who works in a nearby jurisdiction. Feeling overwhelmed, she seeks help when another killing fields body is found.

Victims: Women in general, but specifically Anne, a neglected teen whom the Texas City detectives have tried to help. Chloë Grace Moretz makes the vulnerable character memorable.

Suspects: The dude with the glasses (Stephen Graham), mean dude with tattoos (Jason Clarke) and pimp with a crazy goatee (Jon Eyez).

Don't forget to notice: Sheryl Lee plays Anne's addicted mother, and Annabeth Gish is the good cop's understanding wife.

Setting: Moody, dark and grimy, this Texas story was actually shot in Louisiana.

Body count: At least four killings on screen and more that the audience does not witness.

Why you should be interested: To look for influences that fledgling director Mann picked up from her father, acclaimed director Michael Mann.

Should you take your granny? It is rated R for violence and language including some sexual references. The night shots and plot can be confusing. Your granny will probably spend most of the movie asking: Is that her brother? Who is working for the pimp? Whose phone is ringing?

 

lana.berkowitz@chron.com