When she won $190,000 in a lottery, Leslie (Andrea Riseborough) knew that life as she knew it was about to change forever. And sure enough, it did—just not in the way she was expecting. Michael Morris’ To Leslie picks up seven years after Leslie’s big win. Having blown through all of her winnings, she is gaunt, haggard, alone and in the process of getting booted from her new home: A dingy motel on the side of the West Texas highway. With nowhere else to turn, Leslie goes to stay with her estranged son, 19-year-old James (Owen Teague), who immediately seems uncomfortable by her presence. When mom comes to visit, that means something is really, really wrong.
We first get some insight into what happened to Leslie’s money when James lays down the ground rules for her stay. You can’t stay here forever, he says, and, above all, no drinking. It turns out that that last request is a bit of a tall order for Leslie, who quickly ends up back on the street.
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Eli Horowitz’s feature directorial debut The Cow begins with a simple guarantee: This is going to be an eerie, foreboding thriller. Before we even meet the characters, we are served ominous images of a storage container, standing solo in the middle of the woods. We don’t yet know what lurks inside of that unit, but it’s safe to say that it’s nothing good.
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