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A Single Shot (2013)



Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 41
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 20

It has a bleak sense of atmosphere and a terrific performance by Sam Rockwell, but A Single Shot is undercut by its predictable story and slow pace.


Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 9

It has a bleak sense of atmosphere and a terrific performance by Sam Rockwell, but A Single Shot is undercut by its predictable story and slow pace.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 3,777

My Rating

Movie Info

David M. Rosenthal's backwoods thriller starts with a bang: a single shot, aimed at a lone deer, that hits and kills a young woman. The hunter, John Moon (Sam Rockwell, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS), watches her die before discovering a box of money near her body. In a desperate panic, he takes the cash - hiring a low-rent lawyer (William H. Macy, FARGO) to fight his wife's (Kelly Reilly, FLIGHT) divorce suit - and attempts to cover up the killing. But when he discovers that the money belonged to a group


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Matthew F. Jones

Jan 14, 2014

Single Shot Productions - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (41) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (20) | DVD (2)

An odd mix of beautifully bleak atmosphere and hammily mannered performances, "A Single Shot" is simultaneously understated and overpowering.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Both predictable and outlandish.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"A Single Shot" is a singular pleasure, and worth seeking out.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

None of these characters, no matter how trashed-up for the down-market occasion, are believable.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The back story disappoints less for its convoluted nature than for its failure to create a convincing set of motivations for its characters.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source: NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There at the center of the film is Rockwell, as good an actor as there is working today.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fascinating lead character can't overcome the familiarity of this atmospheric low-budget thriller.

September 30, 2013 Full Review Source:

The movie's general weariness - nothing happy happens here - transitions from tasteful to overbearing.

September 26, 2013 Full Review Source: amNewYork

Lands somewhere between a good novel and a deadly country song, all with the power to take hold and refuse to leave you be.

September 23, 2013 Full Review Source: RedEye

A Single Shot assembles an outstanding, mostly under-appreciated, cast and with them crafts a tense, disquieting gothic fable led by the always preeminent Sam Rockwell.

September 21, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

A Single Shot does not add up to anywhere near the sum of its parts, and as individually impressive as any of those parts might be (Rockwell), we are left with a film that, if not quite a Frankenstein's monster, is certainly patchworky.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: The Playlist
The Playlist

When the plot kicks in, and people actually start talking to each other, the film loses most of its momentum, but it still has enough sections of terse, pointed physicality that the overriding sensation of brute, blunt force rarely lets up.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Hillbilly noir, great cast, dueling beards.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

It's Rockwell - and Rockwell alone - who makes "A Single Shot" count.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

It's a small story, but it's tied into the part of America that's been affected by larger financial instability, the corruption of drugs, and the lack of education and opportunity.

September 20, 2013 Full Review Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Union-Tribune

I'd go as far as to rank A Single Shot among Sam Rockwell's Top 10 performances.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source:

The plot is predictable, but it takes almost two hours to tell because everyone has to chop their way through so much atmosphere.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source:

Sam Rockwell is one of Hollywood's most underrated actors and he shows why that's the case again in A Single Shot, a rural, neo-noir thriller that slowly pulls the viewer under its veil of mystery.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/

Sam Rockwell delivers another outstanding performance in this saturnine meditation on greed set in backwoods Appalachia.

September 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for A Single Shot

A Single Shot draws influences from No Country for Old Men, A Simple Plan, and Winter's Bone, but is vastly inferior to all three of those films. The cast, which includes Sam Rockwell, Kelly Reilly, Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright, William H Macy, and Joe Anderson does their best to elevate the material. But alas, the stolen money plot is too predictable to be suspenseful, the character study of John Moon a little too cliche to be sympathetic, and the pacing too slow to be engaging.
The film successfully manages to create a dark, eerie backwoods setting. Almost every shot screams atmosphere. This certainly helps to maintain a consistent mood. Yet where the film focuses on its mood, it loses focus in its narrative. There are several tangents that serve little to no purpose in the plot. 15 minutes could have easily been left in the editing room and the story would have been more effective and tightly composed. If you're a fan of Sam Rockwell or dark psychological thrillers, there might be some redeeming qualities here, but A Single Shot will not linger in your mind once its over.
September 25, 2013

Super Reviewer

A Single Shot is very much a drama, with some thrilling elements. I have already mentioned Fargo, but A Simple Plan would be a good comparison as far as the overall mood of the film is concerned (more people should see A Simple Plan by the way). It is very dark, very deliberate in pace, but very well acted and plotted out in a convincing manner. There may not be much room for levity in a film like this, but between the atmosphere and the fine performances from the cast, I am definitely glad I did not miss this film.

read the whole review at
September 21, 2013

Super Reviewer

While hunting one day, John Moon(Sam Rockwell) accidentally shoots a young woman instead of the deer he thought he was aiming at. Amongst her belongings, he finds a very large amount of cash. Some of which he uses to employ Daggard Pitt(William H, Macy), a lawyer, to at least try to put a halt on the divorce proceedings his wife Moira(Kelly Reilly) is attempting to put through, desperately wanting to reunite his family. Considering her poor choice of babysitters, he may have a point.

Most people would never think of West Virginia, where this movie could be set, as any place they may want to move to, as most of the characters in "A Single Shot" suffer under the weight of economic hardships and a grey environment, with Moon not being able to hold down a job.(Even Kelly Reilly looks weatherbeaten.) But one thing that thrives there is character turns with quite a few here from a good cast that also includes Jason Isaacs, Jeffrey Wright and Ted Levine.(Levine to his credit is pretty much unintelligible.) What the movie lacks is any kind of perspective on its lead character. It is important to remember that whereas Moon may think he is invariably doing the right thing(except for the part about not dropping the dime anonymously on the woman he shot), the problem is the movie is consistently on his side whereas the truth is always a bit more complicated.
September 24, 2013
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This crime drama-thriller directed by David M. Rosenthal and written by Matthew F. Jones, based on his own novel of same name is good late night time buster- when you have nothing better to do. Watching it, almost every scene will be familiar, even the rural, neo-noir feel. The film stars Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Kelly Reilly and Jason Isaacs. I agree with some of the critics that Sam Rockwell is one of Hollywood's most underrated actors and he shows why that's the case again in A Single Shot. He alone manages to slowly pull the viewer under its veil of mystery, not the screenplay or the story! When he is alone on the screen everything works perfectly, but when the plot kicks in, and people actually start talking to each other, the film loses most of its momentum.

The plot is a story of recently separated John Moon, who copes with poverty in Upstate New York by poaching. While stalking a deer, he accidentally shoots a young girl. He then finds a box containing $100,000 in the abandoned van where she was hiding. During the following days, John receives anonymous threats from people who know that he has the money. Trying to settle the scores and saving his family doesn't go well...

One of the impressive parts of this movie is the music. Written by Icelandic-born composer Atli Írvarsson , the score was recorded with the London Metropolitan Orchestra. One of the special things about the soundtrack is that the shorter cues have been organized into movements, thus creating a program that sounds very much like a concert piece.

If you are in a mood for an impressively dark film with absorbing situations when Sam Rockwell is present on the screen, and you don't mind serious pieces of suitable music in the background while the slowly told story unfolds - grab the snacks, invite friends, and try to connect the threads together to understand everything happening.
January 23, 2014
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

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