The Last Stop in Yuma County on blu-ray


On his way to spend the day with his daughter on her birthday, an Odachi knife salesman (Jim Cummings, "The Wolf of Snow Hollow") is told by motel/gas station owner Vernon (Faizon Love, "Friday") that the fuel delivery truck is late, so he waits until the local diner next door is open. Charlotte (Jocelin Donahue, "The House of the Devil") will serve him her first cup of coffee, but things get tense when the next car to pull in is the green Pinto with a dented fender described as a bank robbery vehicle at “The Last Stop in Yuma County.”


Laura's Review: B+

Writer/director/editor Francis Galluppi’s feature debut is one of those twisty, one location, darkly comedic neo noir thrillers that tips its hat to the filmmakers in some of its well cast ensemble’s filmographies.  Just when you think you know where it’s going, Galluppi pulls the rug out from under you, and he does it with panache as well, cinematographer Mac Fisken ("Carnage Park") showcasing the cast and location with various camera angles and techniques.  This is one crafty little indie.

Tension mounts once that knife seller, who appears pretty meek, notes that car outside and communicates their predicament to Charlotte, whose attempt to call her husband Charlie, the local sheriff who dropped her off that morning (Michael Abbott Jr., "The Bikeriders"), is noted and abruptly ended by Beau (Richard Brake, "Barbarian"), the gun toting elder of the bank robbing brothers.  Back at the station, Virginia (Barbara Crampton, "Re-Animator") tells Charlie he took too long getting to the phone and Charlie assumes his wife was calling about fixing the diner’s broken A/C.

More gas-deprived travelers begin to trail in, including elderly Robert (Gene Jones, "The Hateful Eight") and his knitting wife Earline (Robin Bartlett, "Inside Llewyn Davis"), oblivious to the situation they’ve walked into.  Beau, who now wishes to locate a car with gas to get out of Yuma, instructs his dumber brother Travis (Nicholas Logan, "I Care a Lot," in a ‘Bigfoot for President’ tee) to go next door and check out Charlotte’s story about Vernon living in his motel without a car and to see if the motel has any guests.  Meanwhile Charlie’s none-too-bright deputy Gavin (Connor Paolo, "Stake Land") stops in to pick up coffee, giving Charlotte an opportunity to send a message to her husband.

More folks arrive, some in the know, others not, with more weapons added to the equation, creating a powder keg.   Galluppi, who’s shown us during opening credits that the much awaited fuel truck is lying on its side off the road, keeps turning the screws with arrivals that include Vernon coming in for his breakfast, aspiring bank robber Miles (Ryan Masson) and his girlfriend Sybil (Sierra McCormick, "The Vast of Night"), local Native American Pete (Jon Proudstar) who gassed up just yesterday, and innocent bystanders David (Sam Huntington) and Sarah (Alex Essoe, "Doctor Sleep"), who nonetheless have a surprise of their own.

Cummings, who’s made a name for himself as an indie filmmaker of his own, gives a squirrely lead performance befitting an antihero, a guy quick on observation but the first to dive beneath a booth.  Both Donahue and Love are warmly empathetic.  Brake and Logan, described by one character as ‘Scottish twins,’ in fact portray opposites, Brake cold and calculating, Logan a goofball given to panic.  The trio comprising the local PD gives the impression of small town law enforcement inexperienced with major crime.

The film’s production design gives us a run down, dusty set of buildings faded by the sun, which almost suffocates as it streams in between slatted blinds.  Galluppi’s introduction of Miles and Sybil while they’re still on the road is too abrupt, its only purpose to provide exposition, but otherwise the film is tautly constructed, a later sudden cut to Sybil eating that rhubarb pie ‘you’ll die for’ garnering a laugh.  Matthew Comptom’s score provides moody notes while soundtrack selections run from “Love Is Blue” (“L’amour Est Bleu”) to Roy Orbison's 'Crying' and the ironic 'Let’s Live For Today' from the Grass Roots.

Well Go USA’s blu-ray release gives us sharp picture and sound as well as several bonus extras, including the trailer and an amusing making of featurette in which we learn executive producer James Claeys sold his house to fund the film and that pouring rain greeted filmmakers in need of glaring desert sun (a problem we see miraculously solved by ace cinematographer Fisken).  Three separate audio tracks provide commentary from Galluppi and stars Cummings and Donahue, Claeys and cinematographer Fisken, the first of which is a fun mutual admiration society sharing of interesting tidbits like the fact that “Last Stop” was filmed at the same location as “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “Identity,” great observations like Donahue stating how much fun it was to play people ‘pretending to be normal’ to new arrivals, ‘the performance within the performance,’ and Galluppi’s painstaking attention to such details as fitting vintage cars to the personalities of their drivers and the changing levels in Charlotte’s coffee pots.

 



Well Go USA gave "The Last Stop in Yuma County" a day and date release on 5/10/24.  The blu-ray streets on 7/16/24.