While ’s 1997 feature film directorial debut was never released, the actor had good reason to keep the movie under wraps. Some actors prove naturally talented at directing movies, and some directors are solid actors in their own right. Sarah Polley transitioned from starring in major movies to directing equally successful projects, while Ben Affleck has bounced between the roles of movie star and director numerous times over the last two decades. However, these experiments aren’t always so successful, as proven when Johnny Depp made his first feature film, 1997’s ambitious revisionist Western .
Although is technically about snuff movies, viewers expecting a gory horror like will be sorely disappointed. is a slow character study that sees Depp play Raphael, an indigenous American who cannot afford to keep his family afloat upon being released from prison. Depp’s taciturn antihero learns about a rich man who is offering to pay a willing victim $50,000 to star as the victim in a snuff film and chooses to take up the stranger on his offer. Marlon Brando plays the snuff movie’s director as documents the final week of Raphael’s life as he contends with his choice.
Screened at Cannes, was pulled from any US release after critics dismissed it as a failure. Initially an unrelentingly grim and downbeat movie (fittingly, given its subject), surprised reviewers when it took a turn for the whimsical midway through. While , he does build a playground in a junkyard for his children shortly after accepting the rich man’s offer, a bizarre image that is likely intended to be profound but comes off as clumsy and tonally jarring. Per , is “” which may explain why the movie never received a release.
However, as many regular cinema goers can likely attest, usually, a movie being bad is not enough to shut down its entire release after the project is completed. However,was a somewhat unusual case. Since Depp put a lot of his own money into the budget, the project was undeniably his baby. Not only that but, despite the presence of Depp and Brando, the subject ensured that was never going to be a major mainstream hit. This means investors were less likely to be angered by ’s lack of a release since the project didn’t have crossover potential.
Depp himself decided that wouldn’t receive a release due to the movie’s hostile reviews. Depp since said of the reviews that they were “” His next Western, the mainstream blockbuster . was a catastrophic flop, meaning the genre may just be the wrong fit for Depp in all of its iterations. However, some critics have since gone on to say that has its redeeming qualities. called a “,” although it is unlikely that Johnny Depp will release the movie due to a few retrospective reviews.