Frost Bites 2024 · Horror · Horrorthon365 · Microreview · Movies · White Devilry

Frost Bites 2024: ‘The Organ Trail’ Displays the Brutalities of Settler Colonization in 1870s Montana

I’m a really fast reader. But it took me almost two weeks to finish Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian,’ because the narrative kept knocking me on my ass. McCarthy sets up characters who are devastatingly evil in this Wild West California narrative, and we watch their depravity escalate to unimaginable heights that will haunt us forever.

Michael Patrick Jann’s Organ Trail takes McCarthy’s concept and bait and switches the monstrous lead villain so quickly and thoroughly, it was a stomach lurch hard enough to make you sick.

If you think ‘Organ Trail’ is going to be even a little funny because of the clever title referring to the old school GenX computer game, please reconsider watching this one. In lots of ways it’s a story devoid of hope, and is about the gruesome lengths people go to survive in insurmountable conditions. It boggles my mind that any non-Indigenous people survived those times at all.

What’s particularly striking about ‘The Organ Trail’ is the examination of white on white violence, sparked by psychopaths given free reign to roam the remote corners of the American plains doing their absolute worst.

The film also touches on anti-Black violence, as we meet a Black rancher Erik (Clé Bennet) and his pregnant wife Nora (Jessica Frances Dukes), who literally get roped into the machinations of two mass murderers who indiscriminately kill without remorse. Black characters in this context raised the emotional stakes of the film for me, knowing how hard it would have been for them to settle into their own ranch and land at all. They also brought home how much worse it would have been had Indigenous folks been in the picture, and made me thankful that this particular narrative didn’t involve Natives at all. By 1870, groups that would have roamed those particular lands had already been rounded up on prisoner of war camps, AKA reservations, far away. Or wiped out by sadistic colonizer forces represented by the US government.

For some it might actually be easier to read Cormac McCarthy than watch this film.

✨Orion/5 stars. Only recommend for people who can handle extremely personal violence.✨

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Zuzu Zombie’s #Horrorthon365 project is a collection of eclectic genre watchlists with accompanying microreviews to suit the changing seasons. Horrorthon365 was sparked by a gnarly hand injury and carpal tunnel surgery gone awry, hence the flash-style reviews. After a wicked fall at home and brutal elbow fracture that required surgery, posts will be sporadic until I’m healed. In the meantime, browse the entire collection here