Last weekend, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, a new western starring Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), Jason Priestley and Cote de Pablo (NCIS), was the subject of several screenings at Laemmle's Sunset 5. It will continue to play at the theater at 10 p.m. nightly through Thursday. The film, which won Edinburgh Film Festival's "Best of the Fest" honor, will continue on with a small midnight screening tour and a few festival appearances. The DVD will be released this fall.
Described in press material as a "graphic novel western," The Last Rites of Ransom Pride isn't based on an existing comic book or graphic novel. However, some of the stylistic choices, like the brief flashback sequences, do resemble comic panels. The film follows the story of Juliette Flowers, a renegade on the quest to retrieve the body of her love. It's a classic tale of revenge told in a fashion that breaks with the conventions of the genre, but that seems to be what attracted the film's stars.
"He really wanted to take the western genre and really turn this sound up to eleven," says Priestley, who plays John the Apostle, of director Tiller Russell. "He wanted to give it a jolt of energy and excitement that it had been lacking for some time."
"A lot of westerns fall into this static, staid shooting style," he continued. "I think he wanted to bring a lot more excitement and violence and to it."
Priestley had experience within the genre, having appeared in Tombstone in 1993. He also just finished directing the forthcoming western, Goodnight for Justice, which he indicated would run on The Hallmark Channel early next year.
For others, including Lizzy Caplan, who stars as Juliette, the film marked new terrain.
"It was a western," she says. "I've never done those before."
Caplan arrived to Calgary before the shoot began so that she could practice riding horses. Then there were the guns.
"I went to the gun range in L.A. before going up to Calgary," she explains. "It's a little disarming because it's very loud. Nothing can prepare you for that unique sensation. For me, it was a little scary. "
Cote de Pablo, recognizable to TV viewers for her work on NCIS, is both new to westerns and to feature films. In The Last Rites of Ransom Pride, she plays La Bruja, an antagonist for Juliette.
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"The evil witch appealed to me," says de Pablo of her character.
But the division between good and bad isn't strictly defined in The Last Rites of Ransom Pride. Juliette herself is a killer, as is her deceased boyfriend Ransom Pride. Maybe the differences between the heroes and villains aren't that great.
"I do feel that these characters were so well-written," de Pablo says. "They have bad actions. They're not particularly justified but they come from a place where in their mind their actions are justified. "
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride will be released on DVD on October 5.