Vengeance Trail Image

Vengeance Trail

By Bradley Gibson | April 19, 2024

Director Stephen McCurry’s 2006 micro-budget Indie Western Vengeance Trail presents two parallel narratives of interest. Firstly, the film itself is, by design, a standard Western shoot-em-up in the style of old film serials. There are dusty streets, guns, horses, and melodrama outside a saloon.

To map out the basics, we have a small frontier town, a woman in trouble named Annie McBride (Stephanie Northrup), a corrupt sheriff (Jeff Dolan) arch-villain, and a rogue-ish good guy named Jim Dawson (Robert Kotecki) who wants to be a rancher. Still, we can’t seem to stay away from the lead-slinging type of trouble. The robbery of a stagecoach just outside of town sparks off a series of events that bring all the main elements together in a chaotic surge of violence.

“To map out the basics, we have a small frontier town, a woman in trouble…a corrupt sheriff…and a rogue-ish good guy…”

The film, of course, resolves in a final High Noon type shoot-out in which all due justice may or may not come to those deserving.  The plot is an afterthought; honestly, you could remove the dialogue and have no trouble following along. You’d still want the music, though, as the original score by Ken Charlson is excellent.

Vengeance Trail starts off a bit shaky but ultimately does work its way into becoming a fun, light, formulaic Western. It’s easily as good as the many cheesy Spaghetti Westerns of the mid-1960s. The performances are wooden and stereotypical, but that’s precisely what is called for in the situation. Sets, props, and solid cinematography bring the traditional Western tropes to life with nothing belying the low cost of the film. Given the tiny budget and the time it took for the film to reach release, it’s a remarkable achievement.

Vengeance Trail (2024)

Directed: Stephen McCurry

Written: Al Frisch

Starring: Robert Kotecki, Stephanie Northrup, Jeff Nolan, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Vengeance Trail Image

"…Western shoot-em-up in the style of old film serials..."

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