• Though Cronenberg claims to have been unfamiliar with the film’s graphic novel source material, his compositions regularly invoke comic book panels – such as a Leone-esque shot from Tom Stall’s hip during his front lawn stand-off with Carl Fogarty (above), or a climactic master shot of the entranceway to Tom’s home in which Richie’s body lies flat on the ground and Mortensen’s gun-in-hand can be seen poking out of the doorway. That said, these comic book-ish compositions are themselves modeled after images from classic Western and crime films, two Hollywood genres that AHoV is both indebted to and interested in subverting/critiquing.
• I didn’t notice it the first time around, but the name “Stall” is a really nice touch, as it subtly captures Joey’s (ultimately futile) attempts to block/impede his violent (former) self.
• Ashton Holmes’ performance is still the film’s weak link, though the moment in which his breakfast is interrupted by Tom racing into the house (thinking that Fogarty has come to kill his family) exudes a measure of believably sudden, childlike fear that films rarely show (or accurately capture) in teenage characters.
• Cronenberg’s formal mastery is impressive throughout. But that opening, extended tracking shot of the two killers outside the motel (and in their car) is truly in a class by itself.
• Maria Bello really holds the film together as Tom’s wife Edie, and not just in the two incredible sex scenes. Her performance during the scene in which the sheriff confronts Tom about his true identity, and she backs up his lie, is superbly handled. Kudos also to Peter MacNeill as the sheriff, whose initial “So that’s the way it’s gonna be” smile when he realizes Edie is going to endorse Tom’s deception shifts to a look of uncomfortable, embarrassed meekness when Edie begins sobbing – the lawman caught between thinking that she’s lying, but incapable of calling her out because there’s a chance, however slight, that her tears (and story) are genuine and any further query might truly upset the situation.