THE Keeping Room is beautifully shot and immaculately edited, particularly in the film’s brutal opening scene.
It also offers another take on what life was like in the dying days of the American Civil War.
But if you take all that away, Daniel Barber’s story is just a cat and mouse thriller – and not a very good one at that.
The film sees two sisters Augusta (Brit Marling), Louise (Hailee Steinfeld) and slave Mad (newcomer Muna Otaru) forced to protect their home from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the approaching Union Army.
Barber likes to challenge expectations in his films.
In his previous, acclaimed film Harry Brown, an elderly widower proves he can doll out street justice after the murder of his best friend.
While in this film, Barber challenges the perception that women left at home by their warring men are not as defenceless as they seem.
But while Harry Brown was gritty, action packed and, at times, terrifying, The Keeping Room lacks urgency.
Westerns often have that slow burn feel to them but there is no pay off here.
The soldiers, played by Sam Worthington and Kyle Soller, are loathsome and menacing.
But the three women never feel in any real danger.
The film also misses the opportunity to say anything meaningful about the issues it raises, particularly on slavery and race – one of the key issues of the Civil War.