In Grayson Whitehurst’s A Handful of Dust, Ms. Lilith Engler (Eileen Weisinger) is a desperate mother who contacts Dr. Goodman (Atticus Cain), a doctor known to practice euthanasia on terminally ill patients. Her daughter is in excruciating pain from a terminal illness, or so she says. When Dr. Goodman arrives at the Engler home in an unnamed dry, rural plain state. Alice (Dannah Basgall), Lilith’s daughter only really talks about how their area hasn’t had rain for a month and that her mother says “the rains will cleanse us.” She quietly mentions to the doctor that she is scared before Lilith comes into the room. There are hints that something is awry from the get-go when we see a group of women in black robes in a circle with a goat in the middle during the opening voice-over.
“…desperate mother contacts a doctor known to practice euthanasia…”
Eileen Weisinger is very powerful as Lilith, a mother and what appears to be the leader of a coven of witches, or perhaps the head honcho of a cult. Either way, her voice rings through this entire film with raging fury. She is entirely the star of A Handful of Dust. Atticus Cain’s Dr. Goodman is a pawn in a game far bigger than he’s ever been a part of before, and we find out that Lilith is not too fond of him playing God because, in her mind, the only one allowed to do that is her. The film, though short, sums up a lot of mythology about life, death, and rebirth during its time.
Shot in a beautiful black and white and somewhat reminiscent of The Witch and The Wicker Man, A Handful of Dust is an excellent way to spend 19 minutes of your day. It will also make you think again before you complain about rainy weather, considering the sacrifices that are made in the film to get the cleansing rain to finally fall.
A Handful of Dust. Written and Directed by Grayson Whitehurst. Starring Eileen Weisinger, Atticus Cain, and Dannah Basgall.
7 out of 10 stars