Fitting to the film’s tag line, actor Steve Pierre’s “Eric Smallhouse has gone off the reservation… way off the reservation” in the quirky indie comedy Rain in the Mountains that was penned by Joel Metlen and became the third feature directed by Metlen and his filmmaking partner Christine Sullivan. A festival favorite, the film which earned three awards as Best Feature and one for Best Comedy was also an Official Selection at the Santa Fe Film Festival before making its way to DVD.
As the movie opens, Eric, walking home from a job interview, stumbles upon an elderly man hanging from a noose in a tree. Instead of finding him dead, the old Native American man begins to speak and tells Eric that it is his duty to lead his people back to the old ways. Unsure just what the old ways would entail, Eric does his best, angering his wife Lindsey (Audrey Seymour) in the process as he drops his teenage son off on a deserted road to have an Indian vision quest, erects a tee-pee in his front yard, or in the film’s funniest sequence, takes his son Todd (Nick Erb) fishing, determined to only eat what they can catch, only to have the reel fall off the pole and a hook get caught in a plant before he must use the modern convenience of duct tape to try to fix his pole. Despite the fact that his initial forays are a failure, Eric doesn’t give up and further loses his grip on life as he takes his frustration out on the local power company with his decision that electricity is the enemy, taking to the streets to smash light-bulbs to the ground and yell a loud cry of “Damn you, Edison!”
Although the film’s amateurish production coupled with some false, one-note performances (notably Seymour’s) take some of the cinematic pleasure from the movie, it’s a great effort that seemed like it would be of particular interest to film students working on making their first feature films since it never quite shakes its student film feel, despite some inventive bits of humor such as an Abbott & Costello styled routine between Eric and the local sheriff about a chopped down power pole and a likable, upbeat storyline that makes its pacific northwest setting seem like an additional character. Admirably, according to IMDb, the eventual completion of the film is an inspiring achievement considering that the charismatic lead actor Steve Pierre suffered a serious stroke a full two thirds the way into the production of Rain in the Mountains.