Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan play a smalltown detective and a newly-arrived New York cop who are tracking a sadistic serial killer. Unpredictable and untraceable, he dumps his victims' mutilated bodies in a marsh the locals refer to as The Killing Fields. Director Ami Canaan Mann - daughter of Michael - makes an impressive debut with this involving yarn which is less police procedural and more noirish mystery. Precocious talent Chloe Grace Moretz plays a neglected daughter dragged into the mire.
Ami Canaan Mann
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Ami Canaan Mann makes a convincing case to join the select band of directors' daughters - Sofia Coppola (Francis Ford), Jordan Scott (Ridley) and Jennifer Lynch (David) who could forge a convincing career of their own.
Working from a screenplay co-developed by her dad Michael, she ably creates an atmosphere of bleak tension around the disappearance of teenage girls in a creepy Texan bayou known locally as the Killing Fields.
Detective Mike Souder (Worthington) and his New York-born partner Brian Haigh (Morgan) are investigating the murder of a young woman when they are called in to help when another girl goes missing.
Souder is a short-fuse local boy bitterly divorced from fellow cop Pam (Chastain) while Haigh is a God-fearing rationalist happily married with a young family but an unspecified blot on his career back in the Big Apple.
They've got vague suspicions that tie the crimes to a local hooker (Gish) and the shifty men that hang around her rundown clapboard but can do little more than take her wayward teenage daughter (Moretz) under their wing.
Then she too goes missing.
Too disjointed to pass muster as a slick police prodecural or slow-burning whodunit, the strengths on show here are those of evoking atmosphere. In the ravaged countryside surrounding the decaying Texas City, there's an almost tangible smell of fear.
Worthington and Morgan deliver their strongest performances in a while and there's a strong supporting cast including Britain's ever reliable Stephen Graham as a particularly seedy refinery worker and client of Gish.
Mann is definitely one to watch.