A multinational crew skewers Christian fundamentalism using charcuterie
Film | Jorge Ignacio Castillo | August 26, 2021
American Sausage Standoff
Opens Aug. 27
American Sausage Standoff is a movie with tremendous chutzpah. Written and directed by a Dane (Ulrich Thomsen, of countless villain turns including Kai Proctor in Banshee) and starring a Brit and a Kiwi, the film criticizes the grip evangelical Christianity has over flyover America and dares to suggest it fosters ignorance, jingoism and bigotry.More absurdist than funny ha-ha, American Sausage Standoff opens with Edward (Ewen Bremner, Trainspotting), a German loner, arriving in the dying town of Gutterbee with the intention of opening a restaurant specializing in sausages. The plan earns him an ally, a drifter named Mike (Antony Starr, The Boys), and a passel of enemies. Chief among them are Jimmy Jones Jr., the local “big man” who embodies the worst traits of Trumpism; and Luke Hosewall, a freelance preacher more concerned about the collection plate than saving souls.
Two elements separate American Sausage Standoff from your standard edgy indie fare. The characters are “meaty”, and the cinematography looks great. The latter comes courtesy of Anthony Dod Mantle (Oscar winner for Slumdog Millionaire). The frequent Lars Von Trier collaborator makes the film look like a true western: overlit, neat, gorgeous. Mantle even makes the profoundly disturbing climax look almost elegant. Almost.
Some of the detours the film takes are weirdly captivating. Thomsen goes to great lengths to explain how religion and sausages have been at odds for centuries, and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t make a convincing case. I’m not keen on the film’s title, though. It goes by Gutterbee in Europe, but I guess it was felt that would be too obscure for U.S. audiences. But American Sausage Standoff is almost a plot description, on par with Snakes on a Plane.
Unfortunately, the movie’s overall cohesiveness falters at critical junctures. Mike, who’s supposed to be audience’s surrogate, sees his character arc sacrificed to the main storyline (the least interesting aspect of the whole picture). I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a longer, more cohesive version of the film. But for now it’s a recommendation, by the skin of its… uh, sausage. Stay through the credits for the soon-to-be classic “Lederhosen Gangsta”.