Inspired by the memoir by author Poe Ballantine, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere examines an unsolved mystery in the isolated prairie town of Chadron, Nebraska. In the Summer of 2006, a somewhat aloof but brilliant mathematician named Dr. Steven Haataja entered the town and began teaching at the local college. A few months later, Haataja suddenly disappeared and his charred remains were found tied to a tree 95 days later. While the scene seems to suggest homicide, many in the town have come to the conclusion Haataja committed suicide. Poe Ballantine sets out to solve this case and bring justice to Haataja’s family.
Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere can probably be best described as mix between Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Chadron is a sleepy little town, with a population of 5600 and only one stoplight in three counties. One of the town’s biggest sources of the entertainment is the local newspaper’s “Police Beat” column, which transcribes the town’s unusual and humorous police calls, ranging from dead cats that can’t be found to werewolves in the middle of the night. The film almost becomes less about the actual mystery, which remains unsolved, and more about Chadron’s quirky residents.
The film also gives some backstory about Poe Ballantine, real name Ed Hughes, who used to suffer from suicidal depression and has a son with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The film uses a series of paintings to visualize Poe’s story, which includes how he met his wife Christina in Mexico. Despite being a film about a mysterious death, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is quite humorous at times and the film as a whole is an enjoyable watch.
8 | LIKED IT
- Tues, April 29, 4:15 PM – Scotiabank Theatre 7
- Fri, May 2, 8:45 PM – Scotiabank Theatre 3