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Film / Brimstone

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Brimstone is a 2016 western directed by Martin Koolhoven.

Elizabeth (Dakota Fanning) is living a quiet life with her family when a Sinister Minister (Guy Pearce) arrives in the community and warns her that "retribution" is coming for her. Their story together is then told through Anachronic Order.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: The film is divided into four non-chronological segments. It starts off with Liz being confronted by a sinister Reverend who vows that she will receive retribution for her sins, then the next two segments work backwards to explain their history together. The fourth segment takes place after the first one and features their final confrontation.
  • And Starring: "And Kit Harington".
  • Advertised Extra: Kit Harington receives top billing and his face is even on the cover, but his character only has a few scenes.
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  • Archnemesis Dad: The Reverend is Elizabeth's father who abused her in many ways (including raping her). She managed to escape him, but he is determined to hunt her down, sparing no mercy to those who get in his way.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The Reverend actually goes so far as to use the story of Lot and his Daughters as justification for marrying his daughter against her will. Suffice to say, his interpretation of that part of the Bible is a bit... off...
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The first unambiguously cruel act the Reverend carries out on-screen is the wholesale slaughter of Elizabeth's lifestock.
  • Broken Aesop: The Reverend is meant to symbolize the hidden hypocrisy of Christianity, but he is such a mad and obvious villain that many people did not associate his crimes with his religious views directly, preferring to perceive him as an ordinary mentally ill person, who was also an Abusive Parent.
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  • Dead Person Impersonation: Joanna takes on the identity of her dead best friend Elizabeth after the Reverend kills her, marrying a recent widower under that name. Since Elizabeth was mute after having her tongue ripped out, Joanna had to do the same. This leads to a Downer Ending when it's revealed that Elizabeth had murdered the brothel manager in revenge, and the new Sheriff mistakenly pins the crime on Joanna and hangs her for it, who is unable to properly dispute the charge due to her lack of speech.
  • The Dreaded: As soon as the Reverend arrives into town, Elizabeth is completely terrified of him. There is good reason for this, since he is in fact a murderer, a rapist, and her father.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The safety of the hookers in the brothel is a secondary concern at best. The owner rips out the tongue of one of the girls for talking back to a client, and another one is hanged for stopping a client from raping the young Joanna.
  • Driven to Suicide: Elizabeth's mother Anna hangs herself in their church due to her husband's abuse.
  • Egocentrically Religious: The Reverend is an unbelievably disgusting and hypocritical one. He started out as a strict man proselytizing in the American West where he lived with his immigrant family. He begins lusting after his daughter Joanna — later raping her — and also drives his wife Anna to suicide through his years-long abuse of her, which he immediately dismisses as her being too weak and un-Christian. He spends the next several decades trying to track down Joanna to make her his again and murdering a whole assortment of innocent people who simply got in his way, including children, all the while maintaining that she's the evil one for driving him to sin.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": We never learn the Reverend's name.
  • Evil Old Folks: By the end, the Reverend is an old, grey-haired man, but he's only become more psychotic over the years.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The evil Reverend is introduced to the audience with a nasty scar across his left eye. We later discover how he got the scar in a segment that chronologically takes place several years before the opening one: his fugitive daughter tried to fight him off with a knife when he had returned to make her his bride.
  • Hope Spot: Samuel seems like he's going to pull a Big Damn Heroes in stopping the Reverend from raping Liz, especially since he's surrounded by light when he makes his entry. However, the Reverend shoots him and proceeds to do what he wants with Liz.
  • Implacable Man: The Reverend essentially becomes a slasher villain by the end, murdering anyone in his way and refusing to let injuries slow him down.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Joanna's unnamed father, a stern preacher, shifts his attention to his daughter after losing interest in his wife Anna, eventually raping her. Joanna is revolted and attempt to run away from home, kicking off a years-long vendetta as the preacher continues pursuing her and murdering everyone who gets in his way.
  • Man on Fire: Elizabeth finally disposes of the Reverend by setting him on fire and shooting him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There is a significant difference in the Reverend after his throat is slashed and he is lit on fire in "Exodus." In addition to a change in eye color, the Reverend becomes an Implacable Man, whereas before that incident, he was a normal, albeit very strong man. Some reviewers have posited that the Reverend is a physical ghost whose literally been to Hell and back, resulting in his inhuman constitution and pain tolerance. Or he's just that crazy.
  • One-Word Title: Possibly a reference to "Fire and Brimstone Preachers"
  • Parental Incest: The Reverend is Elizabeth's father, and the reason she ran away from his was because he "married" her against her will following her mother's death. At the end of the movie, he declares his intent to top his previous crime by killing Elizabeth and raping his granddaughter.
  • Portmantitle: Brimstone's etymology is likely a fusion of Old English for Burning and Stone.
  • Sinister Minister: The villain is a sinister unnamed protestant Reverend (Guy Pearce) who has a long track record of murder and rape and has some sort of past association with main character Liz.
  • Tongue Trauma: One of the other prostitutes bites a man’s tongue for kissing her. In response, the brothel proprietor cuts hers out. When Joanna assumes her identity, she goes to the doctor to cut out hers, and when the man can’t go through with it, she does it herself.
  • Villainous Incest: The Reverend is obsessed with his daughter Elizabeth, whom he married forcefully and raped, causing her to run far away from him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Reverend has murdered children by the end.