Jo Lee-Haywood (Elyse Price) and her seemingly normal-ish family own and run Pickings. A local watering hole every bit as "country" as the family themselves. From flat top strumming patrons, belting out the Soggy Bottom Boys, to the inevitable cowboy hat totin' whisky drinker, slipping in a grope here or there on an unsuspecting waitress. The business is doing quite well, which draws the attention of some unwanted guests. Mobsters who demand a cut of the pie - and Jo Lee wants no part of these racketeering thugs. Unknown to them, Jo Lee-Haywood and her family have a secret. A secret that eventually starts a small war of sorts, with tragic consequences. This may seem pretty grim to write about, but watching "Pickings" from writer, director Usher Morgan is anything but. This is a darkly fun, violent romp in the style of "Kill Bill" with some major spaghetti western influences. The name of the game is style - and this film has plenty. Maybe not the most original film out there today, but scary fun to watch. I suspect Morgan's little movie that could will surprise a lot of people. Both in terms of sheer predictability, and the entertainment value of the same characteristic. You're going to love guessing what happens next and love the sheer joy when you're right. That's not to say no surprises await; I'm simply stating this is a film many will love.
As a low-budget independent film, "Pickings" has no problem emptying the chambers and delivering a solid action piece. It's all just good ol' fashioned fun to watch that old story play out one more time before your eyes. But that's not all there is here. I write about tried and true methods and story, and somehow "Pickings" still manages to be somewhat fresh and unique. For sure, you can see the influences, but Morgan manages to put a slightly different spin on the familiar characters and setting. The back story of the Lee-Haywood/Pickens family fits the movie perfectly, and good ol' uncle Boon (Joel Bernard) was an awesome addition to the story - and action of the film. The lone-ish gunslinger who is both completely out of place, and makes total sense at the same time. The entire family feels like your average suburban unit, complete with the crazy aunts and uncles. A credit to the supporting cast. When it comes to the bad guys of the film, there are a lot to list. Yaron Urbas as Sam Barone and Emil Ferzola as Leo Devitto, both deliver a very cool rendition of the main bad guys. Even though I would have loved to have seen more of Ferzola. But even the numerous other bad guys, and there are a lot, felt right in the film. The lack of individual mentions is more to save writing time, as doing so would require a new set of fingers by the end. The easiest way to give credit where it is due, is to write that there are no slouches in this movie. I'm just a lazy reviewer.
The visual elements of "Pickings" require nothing more than a virtual pat on the backs, for all production members. Especially as an indie picture, "Pickings" shows itself quite nicely. Stylish and technically superior to a vast majority of its movie counterparts. Hard on the eyes? Definitely not.
When it's all said and done, team "Pickings" delivers a well above-average movie experience. The mix of action and style blend well... and it's all put together in just the right way. If that weren't enough, Morgan even manages to mix in some serious and dramatically sadder scenes, to keep the story flowing. Something rarely done right in the indie film world. "Pickings" earns every single star I've awarded. Highly recommended viewing. One to watch for.