There’s nothing sweeter than a revenge movie and director Steven Kastrissios pulls out everything in the toolbox to prove it. I’m not talking about some metaphorical toolbox, I’m talking about a real toolbox: crow bar, hammer, pliers, blowtorch, even a soccer ball pump.

The aptly named Christian is on a crusade after his daughter dies. He runs down the guilty party one by one in methodical and spontaneous succession. It’s gruesome, squirmy, dark, disturbing and very well executed.

The Horseman avoids easy pitfalls. First it plays with time and linear narration but smartly abandons that gimmick. Then it starts to look like a torture movie, which it plainly is, but turns the focus away with a minimal soundtrack and cut away scenes too poetic for pure bloody smut. It gets off these well-worn paths and settles into an abandoned back alley where independent movies thrive.

For all its death and dismay, the movie’s best feature is its modesty. Imagine if in the first 10 minutes of The Wrestler, someone murdered Evan Rachel Wood’s character and Mickey Rourke went nuts. The Horseman is kind of like that – like a thin wood beam over a volcano. It’s perfectly balanced and the only way you’re going to survive is by running across it before it burns. Consider yourself lucky, the movie is thrilling enough to keep you running for your life well after the credits roll.

The Horseman plays again tonight at 5 PM at The Roxie. Info.

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