“If you stay in the pressure cooker long enough, they’ll end up stickin’ a fork in ya.”
– Bill Paxton

A small farming community is shaken by an earthquake. One of the residents shoots herself in the head while berating her daughter on the phone. When the daughter, Jennifer, returns to her home town with her boyfriend to attend her mother in the hospital, they find the townsfolk’s behavior becoming increasingly and inexplicably bizarre and violent.

Bill plays Jennifer’s brother Eddie, who lives at home and works on the dairy farm. Eddie is sullen and teenagerish; he fights with his father, drives too fast, and there turns out to be something unsavory behind his resentment of his sister’s boyfriend. But we never see very deeply into him, or anyone—the movie has a slow, surrealistic flow that presents people and events without explanation, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions. And the ambiguous ending leaves behind as many questions as it answers.

Okay, the haircut’s a bit dorky, but it goes with the package. And if you tend to go all melty over the farm boy look, this particular Bill is quite yummy. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time, though—four or five scenes, in which his main purpose seems to be to smoke cigarettes and frown.

Two stars. The movie is unusual and thought-provoking, and baby Bill is pretty.

Dead or Alive?