Review: Person & Price’s Saltville

Not to be confused with Saltburn… Saltville is the upcoming horror-thriller from film-makers James Person and Gordon Price. What’s particularly interesting about this narrative is that it capitalizes on a real-life story that depicts the atrocities human beings do to each other. Having fact checked on the internet, the basis of The Saltville Massacre goes all the way back to The Civil War in 1864, when a number of African American soldiers were slaughtered for no reason. I’m not surprised by this grounding aspect, due to Gordon Price’s knack for finding narratives that center around repercussions from the past and, more-so, the battle between good and evil. It’s almost as if Mr. Price is on a constant crusade to even the score – not that I’m complaining.

Saltville is written, directed, edited and executive produced by James Person and Gordon Price. These two gentlemen were aided in this adventure by co-cinematographer Richard Ross. This horror-thriller and drama stars Gordon Price, Richard Ross, Alex Michalos, Luther Chambers, Lamont Ferguson, Kera O’Bryon and horror icon Lloyd Kaufman. This small cast and crew find themselves virtually in the middle of nowhere, where blue ghouls (I thought they were ghosts at first) linger in the woods long after their time was over. What’s great about a simple concept and creation is there was a ton of room for improvement, as I can report that Saltville has shown great improvement in the realms of camera work and acting compared to other previous films from Mr. Person and Mr. Price.

A directors’ style has definitely emerged at this point, too. Long panning of the wilderness. Lingering on death sequences for just a few beats too long. A quirky blend of nostalgia and modern independence. I’d be able to pick this duo’s work out of an indie film line-up without any sort of context. I’d love to offer constructive criticism at this point, but the duo behind Saltville seem to be figuring it out all on their own. I think my only form of guidance would be to find 1 or 2 genres and stick with them, as the issue with having 3 or 4 different atmospheres is that they wash each other out on occassion. It also makes it difficult to market the film, as horror fans may pick up this title online expecting an in-your-face scary movie and instead end up with a somewhat historical thriller with supernatural undertones.

Saltville isn’t my favorite title from Mr. Person and Mr. Price based on story potential, but it’s showing a steep incline in quality and demonstrates that they know how to build a story out of a century’s old tragedy. Very good audio. Decent special effects. Better acting performances. Saltville begs the question – what else has been wiped under the carpet in our nation’s dark history? If Person and Price are behind the camera, maybe we’re about to find out over the next few years. Saltville won’t be for everyone, but I recommend it to champions of independent cinema who want a little taste of country with a slow burn story. Well done. Final Score: 7 out of 10. 

Michael DeFellipo

(Senior Editor)

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