The UC Watkins Auditorium was the place to be last night when the English Society showed Sling Blade, its second movie in the film series “Southern (K)nights.”
Billy Bob Thornton, widely known for his unique and stunning accent in this movie, was successful with Sling Blade when he wrote and directed it mainly because he knows how to create suspense and interesting characters.
Thornton plays Karl Childers, who has just been released from a mental hospital after spending 25 years there, as a result of using a sling blade to kill his mother and her “boyfriend.”
Karl seems innocent and many in his home town believe him to be harmless because he is slow of speech and thought. Karl soon gets a job and begins living with the Wheatleys, a boy Frank and his mother Linda. Frank, not having a father figure in his life, immediately takes a liking to Karl. When Karl moves into the Wheatleys’ garage, we meet Doyle, Lind’‘s boyfriend, who is a drunk, abuser and bigot. Doyle fails to learn Karl’s history.
As director and actor, Thornton is nothing less than brilliant at building the suspense of when Karl will strike again. You just know its coming to Doyle sooner or later because of his outrageous acts.
Also by the way Doyle acts, the viewer gets a feeling of wanting revenge on Doyle, especially when Doyle continually threatens to murder Linda and her son Frank.
The touching compassion Karl has for Frank and his mother redeems him of his eventual killing of Doyle, because Doyle definitely deserved what was coming to him.
All in all I give the movie five stars. Billy Bob Thornton knows how to create the mood of anticipation through the simple character of Karl, as well as his fascinating voice and accent.