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By Amy R. Handler | May 24, 2013

When a young soldier, on leave from Afghanistan, pays his family a visit for Thanksgiving, he finds his parents and sister fully converted to demon-defying, evil-blasting Puritanism. Is this a simple case of battle-derived PTSD, or something far more disturbing?

Set against the backdrop of war, Sean Robinson’s The Puritans explores how the Sutton family retaliates against global violence by reverting to the past, where life was orderly and so much simpler.

Whether such a reaction is understandable or, for that matter, healthy, is not the point. What is immediately apparent, however, is that Mother, Joy Sutton (brilliantly played by Eileen Kearney), is not necessarily the high-necked, Godly creature she portrays. Joy keeps a firm stranglehold on her family, and seems to have a devil of a time keeping husband Ward (Greg Seel) in tow.

It seems the bible thumping Pa Sutton has a not-so-subtle wandering eye when it comes to the young ladies. To make matters worse for old Ma, daughter Prudence (Nikki Dillon) apparently has a close gal pal named Grace, who is, of course, banned from the Sutton homestead for moral reasons. What’s more than a little alarming, though, is when Joy later remarks to some dinner guests that Grace is deathly ill with some plague or other, and can see no visitors. Hmmm…

The protagonist in Sean Robinson’s little trek into a Rod Serlingesque Twilight Zone is Noble Sutton (sensitively enacted by Tyler Burke). Attired in his Army uniform throughout the film, the soldier stands so far apart from his family, that he may as well be on another planet. Noble Sutton has much to deal with—simultaneously battling his overbearing, dare I say, blackmailing mother and ever-increasing, looming images that seem not to be from the fields of Afghanistan at all.

Critically, there is literally nothing negative I can find about this grand gem of a movie, other than I wish it were feature length. Virtually every inch of The Puritans is rich with ambiguity, delicacy, black humor, and strength. Even the original score by Bruno Axel is sheer magic, and such a towering narrative force, in and of itself.

The Puritans is very strongly recommended.

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