David Pomes' Cook County is a gritty and raw look at a backwoods east Texas family strung out on crystal meth and bent on doom. Uncle Bump (Anson Mount) is a perpetually high dealer prone to paranoia and talking with a shotgun in hand. He neglects his daughter and terrorizes his nephew (Ryan Donowho) for trying to shield the girl from the addicts and losers who hang around their grimy home. Sonny (Xander Berkeley) returns (it seems from jail) to try to rescue the family from its own depravity, but meth is the only means they have to earn any money. And Bump both likes the high and knows no-one would pay attention to him if he wasn't their dealer.
Weighed down by his own problems with drugs and the law, Sonny doesn't have much to work with, and he can't hang around the meth lab for long without drawing the wrong kind of attention. Berkeley turns in a solid performance as a desperate man trying to turn his fortunes around. Mount is brilliant as a raging, emaciated, meth-addled bully. As matters worsen, the final confrontation becomes as obvious as it is unavoidable, but the film is a solid debut feature for Pomes. It won the audience award at Austin's South By Southwest Film Festival, best feature at the Hollywood Film Festival and the jury award at the Sidewalk Film Festival. It will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Canal Place Cinema.