Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Reviewed by: Pam Grady
    Jun 28, 2011
    A lawman seeking redemption can't seem to escape sin in Ed Gass-Donnelly's haunting, rural drama.
  2. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    Jun 30, 2011
    So intent on being "art" that it's seemingly indifferent to providing simple niceties such as compelling performance, plot, and an atmosphere that isn't predictably oppressive.
  3. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Jun 30, 2011
    The film is as much music-video collection as crime drama: The interludes in which the songs swell into voluptuous prominence balance out a tale of crime and redemption so spare, it's almost abstract.
  4. 63
    Gass-Donnelly is good at capturing stalled rural lives, from church hymn-sings populated by the elderly, their voices fragile as April snow, to dead-end afternoons at corner caf├ęs, where bored patrons stretch lunch hours with coffee and gossip.
  5. 70
    There's still much to admire about this carefully drawn but concise character sketch, especially the strong performances and a unique, affectingly ominous score by folk-rock-gospel outfit Bruce Peninsula.
  6. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Jun 30, 2011
    Compellingly acted from top to bottom. As the raw passions of its hard-bitten characters seep into you, the songs hammer them even more deeply into your consciousness. The film's only flaw - a big one - is its brevity.
  7. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Jun 28, 2011
    The combination of provincial accents and Stormare's patented creepiness make "Fargo" comparisons inevitable, though Canadian filmmaker Ed Gass-Donnelly's tongue isn't anywhere near his cheek.
  8. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Jun 28, 2011
    It's a rare film that feels too short, but Small Town Murder Songs leaves one wanting more -- more murder story, mystery and revelations from lead thesp Peter Stormare and virtuoso helmer Ed Gass-Donnelly.
  9. Reviewed by: Mark Holcomb
    Jun 28, 2011
    Boldly succinct yet confident enough to take its time.
  10. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 7, 2011
    Stylistic debts abound: the Coen brothers, Roger Deakins, the bleak, gothic landscapes of Terrence Malick's "Badlands" and Richard Brooks's "In Cold Blood." Through it all, though, is the original and memorable spectacle of violence expressed and repressed by the desperate hero.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Dec 4, 2012
    Beautifully written and directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly about a man Walter (Peter Stormare), who seeks redemption for his life of sin. There isn't anything complicated about the plot, there aren't any wild twists, and it raps itself up rather quickly at under a hour and a half. The cinematography is straightforward and graceful, consistant with the unassuming storyline. The musical score is exceptional, which dramatically enhances this film from a "it was ok" ,to a movie that truly captivates and resonates. Peter Stormare is terrific as Walter. Full Review »
  2. Aug 31, 2012
    Superbly well- acted by everyone on screen and beautifully scored by Bruce Peninsula in a truly remarkable soundtrack that adds so much to the film. For all the fine, fine performances here, Amy Rutherford in a brief role as a grieving mother deserves special mention. In all, while the film is short and might be charged with under-serving its story, there is nary a misstep here. I am looking forward to more, much more, from this director. Full Review »
  3. Jul 16, 2011
    Enjoyable. Hard though to understand the accent sometimes. Excellent filmography. Best i have seen in a long time. It captures the small Mennonite town so well. Film is a mystery but in that Cohen brothers way. Weird and wonderful where nothing happens above the surface but where you feel the vibration of the tremors below. Full Review »