Hot Docs 2014: Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere (2014)

Posted by Jason Wilson April 15, 2014 0 Comment 5735 views

Sometimes it’s the mundane that feels the most human. It can fill in blanks and flesh out the skeleton of a story. It can be tricky ensuring this doesn’t lead to boredom.

Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere plays out a lot like a feature length, video version of This American Life, AKA the best radio show in the land. The center of intrigue is where a well liked professor disappeared one night. Months later his scorched corpse was found bound to a tree on the outskirts of town past a very dense pathway. That mystery is the primary hook. It’s the surrounding elements that make the movie sing.

Based on the memoir by Poe Ballantine, Dave Jannetta’s film involves the members of the community who knew the deceased to add a quirky color. Ballantine’s own biography, one of wandering and searching, is just as much a part of the narrative. It may seem superfluous at times, but it also helps inform why he was the man who ended up writing about it in the first place.

Without the contextual information, it would be a much shorter, less interesting movie. Jannetta uses strong interview clips and raises every point of view imaginable about the case at the heart of the story. It’s a small town, and those who have spent time in small towns will recognize the way of the place.

Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is almost like a home cooked meal. It’s lived in and comfortable, but also familiar and routine. That will translate as dull to some, while it will hit the sweet spot for others.

Screening Times for Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere

Hart House Theatre Mon, Apr. 28 9:45 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 7 Tue, Apr 29 4:15 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 3 Friday, May 2 8:45 PM

Watch the Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere Trailer


For more information and to purchase tickets visit

About Jason Wilson

Writer and film obsessive. Coffee is my lifeblood. Follow me on Twitter @thatratedargh

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