One’s tolerance for Cook County, a
dysfunctional family melodrama set amid the chaos of a family home/meth lab in East Texas, is proportional to one’s capacity to discover fresh revelations in monotonous scenes of tweaked-out, barking, back-and-forth confrontation. Teenaged Abe (Ryan Donowho) attempts to protect six-year-old Deandra (Makenna Fitzsimmons) from her father, Abe’s Uncle “Bump” (Anson Mount). Abe finds an ally when his father, Bump’s older brother, Sonny (Xander Berkeley), comes home from prison, now cleaned up and following a mysterious agenda of his own. The family’s ostensible patriarch, Pee Paw (Tommy Townsend), is absent, slumping catatonically around the house as Bump threatens to introduce his daughter to the pipe and worse—the clannish Southern family has much disintegrated since the days of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Cook County begins with Bump delivering a monologue, between hits, to a strung-out skank, his verbal run changing pace from megalomania to boyish bullying to a Manson-like charisma. Bump’s character is completely mutable according to the itch and scratch of his addiction, and Mount makes the high stakes of this crapshoot personality vivid. The performance is a malevolently glowing ember at the film’s center, dampened everywhere by the other merely adequate ones, uninvolving stock situations, and sloppy conception. Rather than viewing moral chaos from the eye of a storm, director David Pomes watches his movie blow off into the storm itself.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 14, 2011