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  • First and foremost, Brigham City is a murder mystery. But it's also a story about how a murder can make victims of everyone who lives in a small town that is supposed to be safe.

    While Brigham City is set in a predominantly Mormon town in Utah, but it could just have easily been any small town in America and the people could have been of any faith (or none at all). The people of the town feel safe and secure. No one locks they're doors. Everyone knows everyone else. Then their sense of security is shattered by a spree of vicious murders. Suddenly everyone is on his guard and quick to distrust those they have trusted for years.

    The plot of Brigham City really has the feel of a traditional Hollywood thriller, the addition of Mormon culture give the film a higher level of depth. While the film is about Mormons and provides some brief glimpses into their beliefs and customs, it does not attempt to convert audience members to the LDS church.

    In his second film, Richard Dutcher does an admirable job of bringing this story to the big screen. The film feels more professional and polished than his previous entry (God's Army), but at the same time doesn't feel like the typical Hollywood fare.

    What works in this movie is Dutcher's attention to detail and the depth of the characters. I was pleased to see how the violence in the movie was implied rather than shown directly. I was also impressed by the casting of Wilford Brimley. There may have been a commercial reason for him being attached to the film, but his presence gave the film a feeling of familiarity.

    Dutcher also makes great use of camera angles and music to cast each person as a suspect. This is also the film's low point, as it is used so much it begins to bog down the story. Non-Mormons may feel that certain points of the movie are a bit too preachy.

    All in all, Brigham City is a decent movie. I don't recommend it for younger children, as some of the implied violence may be disturbing, but most people over 13 will probably be drawn into the story the same way you would a traditional Hollywood thriller.

    You might ask why I (a non-Mormon) interested in seeing Brigham City. Since I manage the movie theater where the film is playing I wanted to be able to give an informed opinion about the movie. As a movie fan, I was interested to see how Brigham City stood up to other Hollywood and independent films. As a person, I was interested for the glimpse of Mormon culture the film provided.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I watched it knowing it wasn't going to be a light-hearted film, which was an advantage over many people I know who went to it thinking it was a happy ending sort of show. I must admit it was a little odd to see the goings-on of LDS church meetings and other LDS cultural aspects on the big screen, but it is territory that needs to be covered so that future movies that cover similar territory won't be weighed down with reviews about the LDS church rather than focusing on the movie at hand. I watched the DVD a second time with Richard Dutcher's audio commentary and, after that, I concluded that he is someone who is conscientious about finding the balance in film in regards to the religious issues dealt with, not too pro or too anti. I was quite amazed as to how resourceful he was, considering their meager budget he had to work with. The outcome was superb and he told the story in a simple, yet elegant way. I look forward to Mr. Dutcher's next film.
  • dafalias27 December 2005
    10/10
    Wow!
    When I read that the director casted himself in the lead, I thought, "well, boy, it seems the only way for you to get a role". I couldn't be more mistaken.

    Script: Richard Dutcher - brilliant

    Directing: Richard Dutcher - brilliant

    Lead: Richard Dutcher - brilliant

    Although the atmosphere of the movie is somewhat depressing, something I am usually not looking for, I was nothing but impressed.

    Brigham City is a character driven thriller with nice twists and takes a very close look at religiously fundamentalist small town life in the U.S. Bottom line is, no matter how much you try to shield your whole-world-community from the hazards of the "outside world", you can't. The script has some nice twists and stays suspenseful until the murderer is finally discovered, but the real plot revolves around the sheriff and his world being turned upside down.

    Unfortunately we have experienced something terrible and unexpected in our community, too, and it takes in fact some time until you are able to admit the truth - you just think you are in the wrong movie.

    Dutcher takes you on an emotional ride with the sheriff to exactly that point.
  • eileenmchenry5 September 2004
    Brigham's sheriff -- a terribly sad, but extremely decent man -- is forced to admit that there is a serial killer in his small, friendly, pretty little town. He sets about looking for the killer from what appears to be a hopelessly blinkered perspective, refusing to believe that anyone but an "outsider" could be responsible. He gradually finds his way to the answer, and it hurts to watch. I could happily see a film by this director every day of the week. This was absolutely brilliantly done -- such a nice change from all the crash and bash of more typical overacted, overplotted, punctuated-by-explosions movies. Dutcher gives the lie to the idea that movie characters (especially the police) need to be wisecracking, high-octane, postmodern cardboard cutouts in order to solve a crime. It's a rare example, too, of a film filled with deeply religious people who are not simply a bunch of flakes.
  • You know, when most people hear about this movie and they find out that writer/producer/director/star Richard Dutcher is a Mormon... and that the movie has a definite Mormon agenda... they are going to be rolling their eyes and thinking, "That can't be any GOOD!" (Heck, that was my own reaction initially.) This movie is about a small Mormon town who's quiet tranquility is rocked with the seeming arrival of a serial killer in their midst. I don't even want to say anything more about the plot lest I give something away. Suffice to say that the movie is one of the best-written AND directed AND acted (with the exception of co-star Wilford Brimley, I don't think anyone is a "professional" actor) police thrillers I have seen in recent years! And no, I'm not a Mormon! Richard Dutcher has really done something unexpected here... by infusing a traditional thriller with an examination of faith... and emotion... and humanity... the movie works on all levels... topped off by a searing ending. I was really blown away by this movie (though I still have no intentions of joining the Mormon Church.)
  • Dutcher has done it again.

    I went in to the theater hopeful, but a little skeptical. As the movie progressed I found myself criticizing the details--there were a few rough lines; the music was heavy-handed in a few places; some of the scenes moved too slowly.

    But the whodunnit element worked for me, and from the audible gasps of others in the theater, I would say it worked for almost everyone there.

    But it is the final scene (after the murder mystery has been solved) that made the film worth seeing. Almost never have tears fallen down my cheeks while watching a movie. This one did that for me.
  • apt1712 April 2001
    Several days after seeing this movie, I'm still thinking about it. That's about the highest compliment I can pay to a film.

    As in all great films, the power of _Brigham City_ lies beneath the surface. The whodunit plot is merely a prop for the exploration of issues that affect us all, especially those of us who claim some sort of religious faith. The age-old question of whether innocence and wisdom can coexist is asked, never answered, and in the end eclipsed by a more pertinent question: If redemption is available for those who have lost their innocence, is it also available for those who fail through lack of wisdom?
  • In the theater my best friend and I made up half the audience. This is a misfortune indeed, because I relished this film. We have two main characters, Wes, a small town sheriff who believes his little community is a sanctuary from the outside world and Meredith, who being raised in Manhattan, finds the far out, little Mormon community kinda creepy. Together they face the unspeakable acts of a cold-blooded killer. This film literally gave me the chills and the filmography was very Hitchcock-like giving the audiences plenty of suspense, without grossing them out, as other films maybe would have gone overboard on. What makes the film even more eerie is that it never shows the girls being followed or stalked before they are killed. They are just found. Another remarkable performance to be noted was that of Matthew A. Brown. His many-layered character was a thrill to watch. I hope him more in the future. Wilford Brimley gave a wonderful perfromance too. This movie is definate four star rating in my book!
  • I live in Mapleton, UT where it was filmed, and am LDS. I enjoyed the movie. If you don't understand the Church's dogma then the end of the movie may not mean that much to you.

    I enjoyed the suspense and liked the acting. You can say what you want about the religon and the politics but it's not much different then other places in the world. If you saw the movie Chocolat, you can see the same thing there.
  • It would seem that Brigham City has been largely rejected by its target audience -- the Mormons. This surprised me, as I found myself turning its themes over in my mind for a full week after first seeing it.

    Granted, it is nothing if not disturbing -- especially to the Mormon subculture which has been so different from mainstream America for so long that it has come to pride itself on its separateness. Yet I found myself deeply moved by the film. It examines with agonizing realism (and sensitivity) a core fear of those with deep religious beliefs: Will my hope survive when God says no to my prayers and allows the world to come flooding in? Am I only in this for the perks, the protection? Will my faith survive pain that seems completely devoid of meaning?

    Yet Brigham City's scope is not confined just to the Mormons or just to the religious -- its broader question is whether it is possible to be truly wise while remaining idealistic and innocent. Because of this, the movie seems especially timely and poignant -- both to an increasingly cynical America haunted by its beautiful-but-elusive potential and to a Mormon culture peering warily out at the rapidly growing, international church with its attendant array of alien dangers and trials.

    What effect does encroaching despair and disillusionment have on each individual American, Mormon, idealist of any stripe? How much of your innocence and optimism will you have to part with, even in a victory? It's troubling, and no concrete answers are offered, as this is a question that each believer must ultimately answer for himself. I love this movie's balance of honesty and sensitivity, and I hope that Richard Dutcher will not be discouraged by the less-than-warm reception the LDS audiences have given it. We need more movies like this -- and by "we," I mean everyone.
  • I thought it was a great murder story that really involves the audience. It was also a great insight into Utah Mormon culture. It wasn't a propaganda type movie saying that the Mormon way of life is the best, nor was it showing too many of its faults.

    The best thing I liked about it was that it was very well written. It involved the audience and really captivated your attention. In addition to the drama and suspense, it also went deeper to examine a few aspects of Mormon culture and humanity in general. That makes it a great movie!!!

    My wife and I saw it at an 11:00 showing and we were freaked out when we left the theater. We were wondering if there were serial killers in our little town!!!
  • It's difficult to watch Richard Dutcher's very capable and entertaining, `Brigham City,' without choking on the intended Mormon zeitgeist that permeates the story. Dutcher goes to considerable length to successfully portray Mormons as loving, decent, church-going friends and neighbors as justification for suspending constitutional rights and imposing a theocracy.

    Dutcher plays Wes Clayton, Sheriff of a fictional small town in Utah called Brigham City. Clayton is also the `Bishop' for Mormons in that area, which makes him unquestionably the most influential man in town. A widower who lost his wife and only son in a traffic accident years ago, Clayton is permanently saddened by the loss. Dutcher portrays him with a kindly stoicism, a righteous man who takes both his sacred and secular responsibilities seriously.

    When a young woman from California is found murdered in an old barn on the outskirts of town, Clayton calls in the FBI and washes his hands of the investigation, telling his enthusiastic young deputy that this has nothing to do with Brigham City, that it was a random act that could have happened on any number of freeway off ramps. It's something Clayton desperately wants to believe; that Brigham City is a paradise of the faithful and as a result enjoys a divine immunity from the evil `out there' in the world. His duty as both Sheriff and Bishop is to keep it that way. Unfortunately, a second body is discovered, and Clayton is forced to realize that his `Eden' has been invaded by the outside world, and his duty now requires him to get involved.

    His ensuing investigation makes your skin crawl. Clayton's methodology is autocratic and fascist. His first suspicion is that the murderer must be an outsider or a `Jack Mormon;' consequently, he and his deputies hang out at the only bar in town, collecting beer bottles and glasses to dust for fingerprints, hoping for a match from the FBI database. When the town's convenience store clerk disappears, Clayton ratchets up the police state, using his authority as Bishop to order church members to go out two by two, as in their missionary days, and search every house in town, lack of a search warrant notwithstanding. When one of them objects by saying he has to be at work, Clayton responds that nothing is more important than the life of the missing girl. When one of the town members rightfully refuses to allow a search of her house, he forces his way in.

    Despite deep faith, good intentions, and concern for another human life, fascism in the name of Jesus is still fascism. Clayton's heavy-handedness is precisely why the Bill of Rights exists. While `Brigham City' is a good movie in terms of characterization and story, it is also a very frightening parable about the dangers of religion, and remarkably parallels our nation's attitude and course of action in the aftermath of September 11th. Essentially, `Brigham City' is a microcosm of what the christian right ultimately envisions as America's future, and it's no place where I'd want to live.
  • There were some excellent techniques used in this film, quite unexpectedly. The foreshadowing of the "guilty" one in two places, one being slightly obvious and the second, not at all, was one of the more artful parts of this film. My husband always knows "who did it" before anyone else and this time was surprisingly kept in the dark. Thanks Zion and Mr. Dutcher for a job well done. It is time....
  • I want to say that as a Roman Catholic, I enjoyed this film immensely. It would be a shame for people to think, "Oh, it's a film for Mormons." Everyone should appreciate this fine work of cinematic craftsmanship regardless of their religious persuasion. I was amazed to read that the entire production cost under $1 million. The technical values are as polished as those of any big budget Hollywood feature. And the mystery is by no means simplistic.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In an early scene in "Brigham City," a parishioner in the small town of Brigham shows up at the sheriff's office to ask for counseling on spiritual matters. She talks with the sheriff who also serves as the bishop of the Mormon church. He feels conflicted about discussing church matters on police time, yet goes ahead anyway and counsels the woman. The film is about the dual identities of Wes Clayton that define the character's strengths as well as his weaknesses.

    Wes walks with a limp, the result of a horrendous auto accident that took the lives of his wife and son, leaving him in a coma. He has since recovered and wears two hats as chief law enforcement officer and spiritual advisor to the community. When a body is dumped in the city, the atrocity sets in motion the work of a serial killer, which sends the town into a panic. Wes must now walk the tightrope in his two identities.

    This film project was due to the vision of Richard Dutcher, who wrote the screenplay, directed the film, and performed the leading role of Wes Clayton. Dutcher had a clear concept that transcended a straightforward murder mystery. Instead, the film offers underlying layers of meaning about the values of a faith-based community and the leader who wants to maintain a sense of "paradise" in Brigham. It would be a mistake to think of this film as a Mormon movie; it is much more than that.

    Clearly, Wes sees himself in a leadership role and genuinely wants to protect the members of his community from harm. But he is personally flawed and narrow in his view of the world. In the past, he made an unconscionable error in the hiring of an employee without a background check. He placed his trust in his instincts and in what he perceived were the shared values of his fellow human beings. By the end, he recognizes his human failing, and it is a moving testament to the community that stands behind him in compassion and solidarity.
  • The worst thing about going to a mystery movie, is to have the perpetrator revealed too quickly. Brigham City is able to keep its secrets well enough that while you are convinced you know who the guilty party is, you don't find out until the last few moments of the film.

    The other engaging aspect of the movie is that it also wisely utilizes both the setting (a small Utah town) and the cultural and religious traditions of the mormon church. Mormons are a group that are often denigrated and little understood by most of American Society. Dutcher is able to successfully integrate Mormon traditions of worship and belief into the plot. While some may find this to be too blatant at times, I think he is able to successfully balance his desire to use this as a backdrop for his murder mystery.

    As someone who lived in Utah for about two years, I thought Dutcher was very able to capture many aspects of contemporary Rural Utah/Mormon Culture that are quite unique....so if you would like to understand a little more about mormonism, without inviting the Mormon Missionaries into your home, I think this is a great way to do it, while being entertained at the same time, by a great WHODUNIT plot.
  • sh33na31 October 2001
    Having childhoods in the same hometown (Mt. Vernon, IL), Dutcher and I come from completely different worlds as adults. I was impressed with his direction in this film, the tension created and maintained. The characters show a refreshing honesty in looking at where they have been.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Brigham City is a "Garden of Eden" story based in Brigham City, Utah. Brigham City is a little piece of Mormon paradise interrupted by the presence of an evil serpent. Never before has the city experienced a murder. This movie portrays a definite contrast between the "real world" and the naive town. This contrast goes hand in hand with Mormon communities. Mormon communities are well known and criticized for their isolation from mainstream society. The discussion between the sheriff and deputy about real world news and the fact that the secretary at the sheriff's office had not recognized the signal for a dead body highlights the isolation of the town.

    The main character, Wes, holds a pivotal role in this film, as he represents the entire religious community. Serving as bishop and sheriff shows the difficulties of the Mormon community to hold dual roles. His refusal to listen to the news serves as an example of the isolation of the Mormon religion. Wes' naiveté represents innocence, but as the pieces of Terry's gun are methodically put together, so are the pieces of the investigation. Wes gains the knowledge he has been searching for when the gun is whole. Then Wes makes a decision that forces him to lose his innocence forever.

    The dual roles of the sheriff also help increase the tension of the film. The tension is first apparent when a woman comes into the sheriff's office for a religious confession. The tension between these roles climaxes during the investigation of Steve's house. Wes, performing his duty of sheriff, had little patience for Steve trying to ask for forgiveness for hoarding a pornography stash.

    One should watch out for the color red in this film as it plays a sinister role in the movie. The car of the first murder victim was red. The blood on the wheel was bright red. Most of the victims have red hair. The fingerprints of the murderer are taken from a red (admittedly almost maroon) cup. The murderer, himself, admits that his only blonde victim had hair that looked red when he finished with her. This color seems to connect the murders and symbolize evil.

    The most telling scene of this movie was the shooting practice scene. In this scene, Terry and Wes have a discussion about the killer. Terry wonders whether the killer could feel remorse for his actions and whether the killer could be forgiven and sent to heaven. Then we see Wes miss most of his shots while Terry hits all of his targets. Terry's concern for the well-being of the soul of the murderer hints and excellent shooting skills are a strong indication that Terry is the killer. Wes' story lack of marksmanship shows his innocence while his story about his first hunting experience shows how easily innocence can be lost.

    Clearly, the foreshadowing of this film may be been a bit obvious. Stu's death seems imminent from the very beginning because he says that one day his companions will miss him when he is gone. An ominous moment occurs when "All is well" is spoken at the gazebo. It should not go unnoticed that the next murder victim was found shortly after under the very same gazebo. And who could miss the signs that pointed to the murderer in the shooting practice scene? But if one dials the foreshadowing down some, imagine the suspense one could create.

    All-in-all, Brigham City may not be at the top of one's list of movies to see if one is looking for suspense. At times, the movie becomes a little too concerned with the religious message and the feeling of tension is lost. The plot is a little tired and the foreshadowing allows one to identify the last victim and the killer well before the movie comes to an end. But if one is looking for a film that captures the very essence and struggle of the Mormon community, this film is one to see.
  • pied14 August 2002
    This independently-made film kept me fascinated long after my bedtime as I watched it on video.

    I thought the camera work, acting, and dialogue were excellent.

    Although a person could draw the conclusion that the inhabitants of fictional Brigham City are sanctimonious, close-minded people, there is no doubt about the skill of the director/producer and star Richard Dutcher of this film, a practicing Mormon himself. His performance as the widower sheriff of Brigham is nuanced and complex. He is fiercely protective of his sheltered little town--a town that until now has never known murder.

    It was also interesting to observe the rituals of the Mormon sabbath.

    Altogether, Brigham City is a welcome change from the special effects, blockbusters of recent months. People actually talk to each other. Relationships are important.

    The murder is solved at the conclusion. My conclusion is that Richard Dutcher's is a talent that will only get better with time. 9/10
  • Last year God's Army , a film by Richard Dutcher and Zion Films , was well received by many in and out of the LDS community and though an independent film it launched the concept of positive LDS related themes as mainstream in the movie industry. This year the list expands with the release of Brigham City on April 6.

    Brigham City is a portrait of Latter-day Saint culture and small town community amidst the turmoil of murder. The plot suspenseful unfolds as the town sheriff who happens to be a bishop deals with these events on a professional level as well as a personal one. The numerous subplots contribute to the ambiance and understanding of the LDS lifestyle and faith. Dutcher conveys to the screen a glimpse into a world that though familiar to us may be foreign to many.

    Due to its subject matter of murder and even a few disturbing comments I believe that the MPAA has appropriately given this film a PG-13. Brigham City really is not a `family film' and as such will cause some LDS to shun it. Personally, I found that the concepts were handled sensitively with the scenes of violence being implied and not gratuitously show. The lack of foul language and sexual content so prevalent in most Hollywood crime dramas was a refreshing change, quite reminiscent of some of the older Hitchcock films.

    Even with the disturbing aspect of Brigham City it has a touching message of the strength of personal faith and its very real application in one's life. Rarely does a film cause me to choke up but this one brought the never used tear. Some of the questions raised by the film are still heavily on my mind.

    This is not just entertainment, its contemplative. Another addition to well made, positive LDS related films.

    Jennifer Foust LDS Host BellaOnline
  • I watched this movie, due to the fact that it was a "serial killer" movie, and was very disappointed. Not only was religion (the predominant religion of this state) a major focus of the story, but the Constitution of our Country was thrown out. Any decent, law-abiding sheriff would NEVER have the members of his church congregation go door to door demanding that they be allowed to search their homes, like it or not. And if they did not agree to it, then the sheriff would come to the house and force it upon them. I am appalled that a filmmaker would put such a thing in a movie and then people say this is a great movie. Doesn't anyone believe in our Constitution any more????
  • Richard Dutcher's follow-up to his spectacularly successful indie film GOD'S ARMY was this little gem called BRIGHAM CITY. Dutcher plays small-town sheriff Wes, who finds his little corner of paradise deep in not only a murder mystery, but also in the grip of a serial killer. All of a sudden, this quiet sleepy town is thrust into the national spotlight and bodies start showing up all over the place.

    Wes is not only the sheriff; he is also the bishop of one of the local wards (congregations) in town, so he is placed in a dual role as both physical protector from a law enforcement standpoint and spiritual leader as well. His young deputy Terry (played by Matthew Brown) helps him out as does an FBI Special Agent (played by Tayva Patch) who flies in from New York to help out on the case.

    As panic builds within the town and as they try to find who is doing all the killing, everyone is considered suspect. A town that has long lived on faith and trust begins to look at itself and each other in a new light now that the world has invaded on their corner of paradise and left their indelible mark on what for many of them had once been hallowed ground. It's certain that many of them will never look at life the same again.

    Dutcher does an exceptional job of doing something nobody has dared do before, and that is exploring the dark side of the Mormon psyche, and doing so in a manner that does not denigrate either the Church, its members or the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for that, he has my everlasting respect. All of us have our dark sides; if sufficiently provoked, even the most mild-mannered of society's members – in or out of the Church – can be provoked or driven to do things that are beyond the pale such as serial killings and the like.

    BRIGHAM CITY will leave you guessing all the way to the final scene before you realize who the killer is, and the end will leave you satisfied that you have indeed watched a true cinematic masterpiece. Of all the films I have seen that were directed to a primarily LDS-oriented audience, this one disturbed them the most, which tells me this one is BY FAR the best, as most of the Utah-types are still mind warped in the "Happy Valley" mode, and for them, they are better off staying in their own little world. It disturbed them because it hit home, and they did not like that – not in the least – and the fact that it did, had me cheering all the louder for Dutcher.

    Dutcher's film reminds us to use common sense in conjunction with our faith. I can think of at least THREE preventable tragedies in the last several years out in Utah that could have easily been avoided had more of the "Happy Valley" mindsets used a little street sense hand-in-hand with their faith. Come to think of it, we could all use more of both in our lives.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 12/10. ***
  • My wife and I watched this movie last night and we're still talking about it. We are both Mormon so we'd heard of the movie but had no idea what it was about. We were very pleasantly surprised. Whatever your religious persuasion, you will enjoy this movie. It certainly did a good job of portraying a Mormon community and along the way I wondered why they kept showing intimate details of our faith, but at the end it all came together as each element was important for the plot to fully play out. Perhaps my expectations were low after seeing God's Army a few years ago, but I thought Dutcher did a great job weaving the characters and the plot together and the suspense is simply fantastic. I give it a 3.5 out of 4 - I'd give it a 4 if there were professional actors, but it nearly deserves a 4 anyway. The acting actually was very good.
  • I stumbled upon this movie accidentally at my local multiplex, as most people outside of Utah must have, and was in for a pleasant surprise. The characters were believable and far more interesting than any conventional thriller I've seen in recent years with a nod to several performances, especially Matthew A. Brown. Although shot on an independent budget, the film makers were more than competent, stretching their meager budget to create many memorable images. The movie is best when contrasting the Mormon lifestyle with unthinkable crimes. Unfortunately, the movie occasionally slows down when presenting Mormon theology(with all the subtly of a brick in the face), but ultimately, presents thought provoking issues which delve well beyond good versus evil.
  • I was so delighted to go see Gods Army. I loved it. I think Brigham City is even better. To be able to go to the theater and see a film about us LDS is wonderful. Its about time. Its been done many times with other religions. Now its our turn. I enjoy movies about other faiths and think many will like seeing flicks about Mormons. Richard Dutcher can do it all. His work is very satisfying. In front of the camera and behind it. And in writing. If he had the funding he could make a better movie then Spielberg.
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