Need a trailer that quickly conveys danger while establishing a directorial aesthetic and a period-piece setting? You could do a lot worse than opening with tight shot of a molotov cocktail being tossed into a stagecoach, followed by a full shot of the carriage combusting along the countryside. The trailer for the “feminist Western” The Keeping Room, directed by Daniel Barber and written by Julia Hart, immediately lets you know that somebody is up to no good. The scene then jumps to a remote farm, home to sisters Augusta and Louise (Brit Marling and True Grit’s Hailee Stanfield), and their slave, Mad (Muna Otaru).
As was common at the time, the man of the house is gone—presumably fighting for the Confederacy—leaving the three women to look after themselves, an opportunity for ne’er-do-wells to exploit. And it just so happens that Augusta runs afoul of a pair of menacing AWOL Union soldiers, played with bloodshot truculence by Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller.
Having managed to fend off the soldiers’ attentions (or at least survive them), Augusta returns home to find that the men have trailed her. The game of cat-and-mouse that follows appears roughly similar to Home Alone, if the wet bandits were murderous drunks, and if Macaulay Culkin’s character was three women armed with muskets and flintlock pistols.
The Keeping Room opens on September 25.