Squeal Like a Sheep: Dominion (1995)

If you go down to the woods today… You’ll find Matty shrugging his shoulders at a just about passable Deliverance knock-off.

Part of the same Deliverance (1972) derived dynasty as Rituals (1977), Hunter’s Blood (1986), and The Zero Boys (1986), DOMINION is the weakest of this Boorman-indebted run but worth a cursory look for fans of Tim Thomerson and the late, great Brion James. Close friends in real life, the duo don’t share the same kind of plucky, double act-based shtick here that they do in their pairings with the sorely missed Albert Pyun, but their presence does imbue the workmanlike Dominion with a degree of watchability — even if James’ psychotic outdoorsman gets lumbered with a pretentious soliloquy completely at odds with his character. Another instance of ‘90s B-cinema’s Silence of the Lambs (1991) hangover; a time when even the most blue collar loons were saddled with endless flowery dialogue.

That said, James’ role is at least somewhat defined. Him and Thomerson aside, the rest of Dominion’s cast barely qualify as stock. Identifiable solely by such traits as being young or sporting ginger hair, they’re a bland and ineffective bunch that are tough to care about. A humourless Brad Johnson — rodeo rider, Marlboro Man, actor, and, before his premature death in 2022, property magnate — takes the lead as a guy whose hunting trip with pals turns into a fight for survival when James shows up. Michael G. Kehoe’s cut n’ paste direction only intensifies the unshakeable feeling that the film is going through the motions.

Shot on location in Malibu Creek State Park in September 1994 and sprinkled with footage poached from Luis Llosa’s Sniper (1993) and Ernest R. Dickerson’s Surviving the Game (1994), Dominion marked Kehoe’s feature-length directorial debut. A craft service guru by trade (subsequent catering credits include: Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Black Panther (2018), and The Mandalorian), Kehoe and his Dominion script — written with the film’s co-star, Woody Brown — were snapped up by Prism Entertainment after the company’s boss, Barry Collier, was left awestruck by Kehoe’s well-regarded 1994 short, Second Dance; a $7,000 demo piece made with the pay he received for supplying the chow on John McTiernan’s Last Action Hero (1993). Kehoe has since helmed several more shorts and the passable — if similarly nondescript — features, The Art of a Bullet (1999) and The Hated (2007).

Dominion was released on U.S. video by Turner Home Entertainment on 25th April 1995 alongside another Prism production, Turi Meyer’s ace Elm Street riff Sleepstalker (1995). Dominion quickly fell into steady rotation on Cinemax and hit British video stores in summer ‘96 via Columbia-TriStar Home Video/20:20 Vision, with whom Turner had recently established a European distribution pact.

USA ● 1995 ● Thriller ● 91mins

Brad Johnson, Brion James, Tim Thomerson, Woody Brown ● Dir. Michael G. Kehoe Wri. Michael G. Kehoe & Woody Brown

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