e street film society

“Welcome to Leith” Movie Review by Daniel Barnes

Welcome to Leith (2015; Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker)

GRADE: B+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens tomorrow at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

Welcome to Leith looks at the panic that overtook the citizens of a tiny North Dakota farming community when white supremacists sought to take over their town.

A barren city of a few dozen citizens decimated by recessions and ignored by the oil boom, Leith is the sort of nowhere town where teenagers sit on the city council.  The current Mayor got his council seat when he was sixteen years old, and only gained his current position when the previous two officeholders died of old age.

Into this sleepy scene enters well-traveled hatemonger Charles Cobb, along with a loose conglomeration of followers and an evil scheme.  They plan to buy up plots of land and outnumber the citizenry with sympathizers, turning Leith into a white supremacist-run city.

The town sits in a sparsely populated county where a handful of police officers patrol 1600 square miles of land.  Therefore, the authorities are helpless to protect the people of Leith, who begin stockpiling weapons and installing surveillance cameras in response.

Welcome to Leith highlights the often-ignored issues of domestic terrorism, crumbling infrastructures and heartland hate groups.  However, it’s also a chilling look at the post-9/11 readiness of Americans to bend civil liberties and sacrifice their freedoms to neutralize a terrorist threat.

Tightly wound and terse throughout, Welcome to Leith ends on a note of disturbingly unresolved tension.  The terror is real, even if it’s only in your head.

Read more of Daniel’s reviews at Dare Daniel and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to Daniel on the Dare Daniel podcast.