Director : John Patrick Kelly
With : Kate Capshaw, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Davies, Ashley Judd
“Locusts” is an old-school rural melodrama. The debut film by John Patrick Kelly oozes with a steamy sexuality and a bizarre gothic haze that makes it feel like a cross between “Giant” or “Hud” and a Flannery O’Connor story. On a hot sticky summer night in the 1950’s a tall brooding stranger played by Vince Vaugn (Swingers), dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans, thumbs his way into a small Kansas town and ambles, James Dean-like, into a brightly lit bar / kitchenette. After a tough-guy one punch fight with a local, over a feisty townie (Ashley Judd), he is lead by a new friend to see a woman about a job working on a pig ranch.
The woman turns out to be a sultry cigarette-smoking, bourbon-drinking widow (Kate Capshaw) with a reputation for sleeping with her employees. Not surprisingly he gets the job and a bed in the carriage house of her estate. The next day the two are seen eating dinner served by Capshaw’s painfully shy son Flyboy (Jeremy Davies). Flyboy, we learn, is 21 and has spent the last eight years in an institution after finding his father hanging, by his own hand, from a tree in the front yard. As a result he rarely speaks and lives in quiet servitude cooking and cleaning for his mother and her guests.
“Locusts” is a powerful but impossibly bleak midwestern gothic. Jeremy Davies’ performance as the emotionally paralyzed Flyboy rivals DeCaprio’s in “Gilbert Grape,” and Vince Vaugn’s poor man’s James Dean / Paul Newman act is surprisingly good. As the film weaves one gruesome scene into another (from pig castration to genuine emotional angst), an unending sea of secrets begin to surface. This is not a film for the weak of heart, but it is a unanimously powerfully display of acting and writing worthy of a rental on a hot summer’s eve.