Beware of Goat Image

Beware of Goat

By Calan Panchoo | June 2, 2023

Following up his short Roadkill, writer-director Justin T. Malone’s Beware of Goat is an incisive and joyously sardonic look at rural life in the American South. It is a remarkably canny film with well-defined characters and as much escalating tension surrounding a single goat as could be hoped for.

The film wastes no time establishing its stakes by introducing two families, neighbors, midway through a long-simmering war of wits and words. The screenplay also wastes no time revealing its intelligence, as each character is presented in a situation that defines them. Not only is this a shrewd way to affirm the foundation of the tension, but it also subtly demarcates the prison that all these people find themselves in. Without ever saying it, this is a gentle but no less forceful consideration of poverty in rural areas and the factionalism accompanying it.

“…two families, neighbors, midway through a long-simmering war…”

The only drawback to the success of the set-up is the manner in which it concludes. The film’s structure mirrors a dialogue, with one family’s growing animosity answered by the other’s. Unfortunately, however, the finale cuts that conversation unceremoniously short, leaving the audience and the narrative wanting for some greater revelation.

Still, it is hard to censure Beware of Goat when considering all that it does well. It is a specifically undaunted portrait of Southern rural life and features some of the best acting one can find in an independent film. Add a streak of black humor to that formula, and the result is a thoughtful and totally entertaining experience.

Beware of Goat (2023)

Directed and Written: Justin T. Malone

Starring: Peyton Pilgrim, John Sneed, Cecelia Wingate, Lindsey Roberts, Lauren Gunn, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Beware of Goat Image

"…a thoughtful and totally entertaining experience."

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