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Review: Backwoods thriller 'Bullitt County' packs weighty observations with its twists

Review: Backwoods thriller 'Bullitt County' packs weighty observations with its twists
Napoleon Ryan, from left, Mike C. Nelson, David McCracken and Jenni Melear in the movie "Bullitt County." (Sean McDaniel / Mr. Pictures)

That Bachelor Party Gone Wrong film genre gets a fresh entry in “Bullitt County,” a dark and twisty period thriller with a little more on the agenda than naughty behavior.

Set in 1977 — with an entire thrift shop’s worth of vintage clothing to prove it — the story follows a small group of college friends (played by Jenni Melear, Napoleon Ryan and the film’s writer-director, David McCracken) who reunite along Kentucky’s Bluegrass Bourbon Trail for a close-knit bachelor party for buddy Gordie (an effective Mike C. Nelson).

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It’s apparent that the intervening years haven’t been kind to Gordie, a recovering alcoholic with a short fuse who’s haunted by past events the others have attempted to put behind them. The group gets distracted by the legend of Prohibition money hidden in the Bullitt County backwoods, and in the process of digging for that treasure unearths a lot of long-buried baggage of its own, with mounting tensions ultimately leading to tragic consequences.

While McCracken delivers the requisite amount of explosive, blood-spattered Midnight Movie mayhem, and benefits from some seasoned Southern Gothic turns by Robert Riehle and Dorothy Lyman, he also injects the film with weightier observations regarding shared guilt and repression.

Although a third act reveal doesn’t quite pack the intended punch, “Bullitt County” nevertheless propels its characters in some unanticipated, intriguing directions.

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‘Bullitt County’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Playing: Starts Friday, AMC Citywalk, Universal City; AMC Promenade 16, Woodland Hills

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