Set in rural Arkansas, Shotgun Stories is a tale of two sets of brothers, birthed by two different women, by the same father. The first set, named Son, Kid, and Boy, were the products of drinking, apathy, and, eventually hatred and abuse by their father. The second set were born and raised after he had abandoned his first family, quit drinking and found Jesus. When this nameless patriarch dies, Son, Kid, and Boy show up at the funeral, and Son makes some damming remarks about his dear old dad, which royally pisses off his half brothers. As tensions escalate, Son, Kid, and Boy become targets of their half brothers hatred for them, and easy to turn to violence themselves.
Produced by David Gordon Green and Lisa Muskat, Shotgun Stories has some of the languorous feel of Green's George Washington, along with its sense of placement in the south. This is the REAL south, not the Hollywood south. Michael Shannon, as the oldest Hayes boy, Son, brings a menacing presence to the screen, one that has no problem hating his half brothers, no problem plotting revenge, no problem bringing them pain. Douglas Ligon also stands out as Boy, the pacifist of the group, if you want to call him that, who would rather just go to work as a basketball coach, and live in a van down by the river (and no, that isn't an SNL reference, Boy actually does live in a van, down by the river). Michael Abbott Jr. also sticks out as Cleaman Hayes, the oldest of the second set of Hayes boys, who doesn't want any trouble, but is willing to bring on the pain when he's pushed.
Nichols' did an exceptional job with the script, and his actors really bring to life, in a very palpable way, the hatred that these characters feel for each other, and the sense of claustrophobia you can get when your worst enemy lives in the same little town that you do. His brother, Ben Nichols, lead singer for Lucero, did an amazing job on the score as well, and its a real shame that the score hasn't been released, even if its just on iTunes. Shotgun Stories is a great movie to see. The pain that these characters feel, the anger, the hatred, the sorrow, the regret, is all extremely palpable. It's just about the best you can expect from a Southern revenge tale, and may even be better than its producers film of the same genre - Undertow (though, Josh Lucas and Jamie Bell really make that film, so... we'll call it even).