Set in South Dakota near the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in 1899, nine years after the Massacre of Wounded Knee, the film "West of Thunder" is a strangely earnest revenge picture, a kindhearted Western with its fair share of killing.
A stranger named Henry Seed (Dan Davies, also the film's co-writer) arrives in a small town and soon begins knocking off residents with what seems an almost mystical power. Seed turns the injustices suffered by the natives back onto the settlers, acting as a righteous defender of the people who have been shunted off to their reservation.
Directed by Jody Marriott Bar-Lev (also a co-writer) and Steve Russell (also co-cinematographer with John Stanier), the film feels not so much amateurish as homespun, made with a sincerity that smoothes over at least some of its rough edges.
Many of the performers have a distinctly unpolished way about them, almost as if they actually were turn-of-the-last-century townsfolk, which leads to some deeply eccentric line readings, but it also gives the entire film an unvarnished quality that remains curiously engaging.