The Countryman Image

The Countryman

By Alan Ng | January 16, 2023

Hatred is a powerful drug. But, unfortunately, an endless supply of hatred only fuels our rage and the need for revenge. Writer/director/actor Andy Kastelic tells the story of a mysterious salesman willing to pay top dollar for hate in his parable short, The Countryman.

Our story takes place in a small farming community as a little girl named Mary (Marie Wagenman) witnesses her father, John (Jack Forcinito), be murdered by their neighbor Paul (Vic Browder). In a snap, John is resurrected as our story’s spirit narrator, explaining that since the war, fear has taken over the town. Hatred has caused the townsfolk to do heinous things to one another, such as putting sand in the tractors, inserting nails into apples and feeding them to horses. People have even killed livestock by placing Lyme in the water troughs.

At the height of the town’s rage, a stranger, Chapman (Andy Kastelic), walks into town, offers $100 to buy each person’s hate, and then bottles it up for his own use. Naturally, the folks are reluctant to take the stranger up on his offer until Paul steps up for the quick cash. It takes a while, but now drained of hate, he is a new man. So it begs the question, why is the stranger buying hate, and what are the unintended consequences?

“…fear has taken over the town. Hatred has caused the townsfolk to do heinous things to one another…”

Artistically speaking, The Countryman is a beautiful film that harkens back to the old studio pictures of the 1930s and 40s with its signature opening studio theme. The cinematic style complements the story’s country setting. At the same time, the story then slips into Twilight Zone territory, using fantasy to make a statement about the nature and emotion of hate. If we remove hatred from our lives, does that mean we’ve gone soft? Hate is treated almost like a drug. There are the withdrawals one experiences. It’s a narrative that will have you thinking and wondering what role hate has in your heart.

Andy Kastelic’s The Countryman feels like a stage play, akin to The Grapes of Wrath, while harkening back to the nostalgic filmmaking of yesteryear. The filmmaker also calls us back to a time when stories and parables like The Twilight ZoneStar Trek, and teleplays of the 50s made you think and wonder what it means to be human. This short film is especially timely in the age where division has turned us against one another. What place does hate have in our lives?

The Countryman is currently making its festival run. For more information, visit Andy Kastelic’s personal website.

The Countryman (2023)

Directed and Written: Andy Kastelic

Starring: Andy Kastelic, Marie Wagenman, Jack Forcinito, Vic Browder, Martha Magruder, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Countryman Image

"…a beautiful film that harkens back to the old studio pictures of the 1930s and 40s..."

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