Call it a modern fable. A tall tale of the West. Or a very strange trip. Open Wound is a story of an America still haunted by it’s past, with it’s tongue planted firmly in it’s cheek. It is a movie of intersecting stories, which converge around a classic battle between Good and Evil. In the family of The Big Liebowski, Dead Man, Magnolia, and Rushmore, Open Wound embraces the dramatic needs of the Western genre, while twisting the conventional.
It tells the tale of Simon Grief, a man who comes to Open Wound to investigate the mysterious death of a young man. He finds a town in an unholy alliance with a well-financed Neo-Nazi group, who have turned an innocuous group of Fotomats, restaurants, and yogurt shops into a haven for drug trafficking. As Simon uncovers the town’s secrets, he reveals one of his own, and must face his own past transgressions.
Then there’s Durke, Wade, Roger, Zip, and Beef, a group of Viet Nam vets who escape their wives once a year to hunt, fish, fornicate and reminisce over the bitterness they feel about the way their country has treated them. They are the nation’s mistake. If they had only fought Nazis, things might have been different. They may still get their chance.
There’s Harlan Peat, a burned-out, 70’s relic, a trucker who gave up on love for the lonesomeness of the road. Now he trucks in drugs to Open Wound, and he carries with him the soul of a sensitive man who never found someone to share his life with. At rock bottom, he finds a chance at love with Mee Fun, a hooker at the local brothel.
And also Andy, a Native American whose homeland has been taken over by the Neo-Nazis. He teaches a form of sorcery to the college-aged kids who work in Open Wounds’ minimum wage jobs. Using a combination of hallucinogenic drugs and ancient mysticism, he teaches the way of the warrior, and prepares for the day when he will take his homeland back. One such kid is Cody, the only True Believer, who can show all of them the way to inner peace.
Opposing all of them is Eugene, a wannabe Aryan who still must mingle with the heathen. As a manager in the drug empire, he must navigate between the demands of his Nazi group and the tainted, flawed, tortured people of Open Wound. Caught between the two, he watches his life unravel as the final battle draws near.
“Open Wound” is an original story, told in an original way. It is not a piece of prepackaged formulaic pap ready to die on the heap of Forgettable. It can be a breakout hit. But it requires a reader to imagine a different kind of Western, a different kind of comedy, and a different kind of story. It strikes a balance between the serious and the absurd, between real human feeling and ludicrous preoccupation, and breaks new ground in the American Western.