“The Standoff at Sparrow Creek,” the writing-directing feature debut of Henry Dunham, strands seven actors in a warehouse to bark exposition at one another. Listening closely is necessary: The monotonously dark visuals barely function to carry the story on their own.
The warehouse contains the arsenal of a covert militia; the members assemble there after learning of a shooting spree. It seems some militia member from somewhere has attacked a police officer’s funeral, targeting the dead man’s colleagues. Missing stock soon reveals that the killer is one of them.
For baffling reasons, Gannon (James Badge Dale), an ex-cop whose presence in the group ostensibly guarantees protection from infiltration by undercover officers, is trusted to take charge of interrogations — a job that in effect requires checking off a list of contrivances. The first man he questions won’t have done it; the movie would be over. Another suspect (Robert Aramayo) is conveniently believed to be mute.
While it may be unsporting to quibble over implausibilities, which begin with the idea that the cop’s funeral was being held at night, the gaps in logic might be easier to forgive if the movie’s real-world resonances weren’t so troubling. The plot creates a context in which these characters’ fears — of false-flag operations and state tyranny — are fully justified, and their motives for stockpiling arms eventually look prescient.