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Movie Review - Uncle John - A Murder Mystery (2015)

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I was intrigued by the premise of this film and was blown away by the realism and the need to look more closely at our friends and relatives whom we feel we know very well.  Many people have a favorite “Uncle John” who is highly respected in the community and loved by his immediate family.  This is the case in the film about “Uncle John.”  It is actually two stories that run simultaneously, creating suspense in each situation.  With the exception of the title character, none of the actors are well known, although they appear to be well-schooled in their chosen trade.

                                              

John Ashton

                                                                John Ashton - Wikimedia

Introduction 

John Ashton, who plays “Uncle John” is best known for his role as Sgt. Taggart in the Beverly Hills Cop series.  His role is entirely different in “Uncle John.”  John is an elderly man who has always worked as a carpenter in a small town outside of Chicago.  He is a decent sort and is well-liked and respected by his neighbors and friends.  John meets almost daily for coffee with his fellow cronies at a local coffee shop where they exchange the news of the day and rag on each other.  The latest gossip making the rounds is the fact that the local ne’er-do-well, a man they call Dutch, has turned up missing.  Dutch had recently become a Born-Again Christian, a decision that has flummoxed his neighbors.  He has visited several of the men and apologized for any wrongs he might have committed against them.  John denied that Dutch had visited him.  What the men do not know is that the viewer has, in the past few minutes, seen John dragging a body down by the lake, wrapping it in a blanket, and struggling to put the body in his truck.  After a lengthy ride, John stopped at a secluded desert-like area outside of town, and created a funeral pyre for the body, making certain that nothing was left to the naked eye.  It is unclear to the viewer what John’s motive for his actions might be.

Uncle John Raised His Nephew Ben

Years ago, John took in his young nephew, Ben, when Ben’s mother died and his father was not in the picture.  Ben, a college graduate, works in Chicago as a graphic designer, whose company produces commercials for name-brand products.  Their most recent project has to do with a well-known yogurt company.  He and his “think tank” compatriots spend their days attempting to come up with eye-catching ideas designed to entice the viewer to buy that specific yogurt.  The newest member of the team is a female, Katelyn, who prefers to be called Kate.  Ben looked her up on her Facebook page and determined that she was single.  Kate and Ben have stopped a few times after work at the local pub, but Kate attempted to keep the relationship on a “just friends” basis.  Ben appeared to have different motives.

                                      

Cup of Yogurt

                                                            Cup of Yogurt - Wikimedia

Suspicions of Dutch’s Brother Danny

Meanwhile, the police have tried dragging the lake to determine if Dutch had perhaps had too much to drink and accidentally fell in the water.  His boat and his gear were still there.  The police were unsuccessful in their search.  One of John’s cronies at the coffee shop happened to mention that Dutch had burned down a neighbor’s barn many years ago.  Dutch’s younger brother, Danny, whose reputation matched his brother’s, is suspicious of all of the men in town.  However, when a transient was seen hanging around, he beat him up so badly that the man ended up in the hospital and Danny ended up in jail for a short while.  When he was free, Danny passed John on the road near John’s house and said he was there because it was where the police found Dutch’s truck.  Danny figured the killer always returns to the scene of the crime.  The sheriff let John know that Danny was zeroing in on him as a suspect, so he warned John to be wary and to keep his doors locked.

Ben and Kate Visit Uncle John

Meanwhile, Ben and Kate were comparing the quality of the various donut shops, and Ben told her none compared to the shop in his hometown.  He offered to take her there for donuts despite the fact that the shop was 2 1/2 hours away.  While they were there, Ben decided to stop in to visit his Uncle John and to introduce him to Kate.  Uncle John welcomed them graciously and invited them to stay for barbecued steaks, which they accepted willingly.  As they were preparing the meal, Danny drove in and John invited him to stay.  Danny looked at the family photographs on the wall and commented on the people pictured there.  It came to light at this point that Ben’s mother, Dede, was Uncle John’s sister, and that she had been killed in an accident when he was a young boy.  Dede was separated from Ben’s father, and apparently had a relationship with Danny’s brother, Dutch, at the time.  For the viewer, that likely provides a motive for Uncle John’s probable animosity towards Dutch.  The circumstances around Dede’s death were cloudy; it might have been a suicide.

 

Funeral Pyre

                                                                  Funeral Pyre - Wikimedia

Danny Sneaks Back After Dark

Ben and Kate decided to stay at Uncle John’s overnight.  At Kate’s initiative, they kissed, and it developed into something more.  Meanwhile, Uncle John had heard noises coming from outside and went out with a shotgun to see what was happening.  It was Danny sneaking around, and he had a can of gasoline with him.  Uncle John beat him over the head with the butt of his shotgun, and dragged him into his truck.  He did not sleep for the rest of the night, and was awake when Ben and Kate arose to leave for Chicago.  John took a trip in his truck to the desert-like area where he had brought Dutch’s body.  Once again, he made a funeral pyre as he had done previously.  Rather than spoil the ending for the viewer, you might want to see this excellent film.  It will give you a suspenseful thrill that is not always present in so-called mystery thrillers.

 

Uncle John
Amazon Price: $24.95 $12.37 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 13, 2016)
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