Is the film based on a true story?

A traveling knife salesman gets trapped in a restaurant in the remote country of Arizona and witnesses a tense hostage situation that throws him into chaos. In Francis Galluppi’s feature debut, ‘The Last Stop in Yuma County’, we are transported to a world where neo-noir films meet the over-the-top shenanigans of an old-fashioned Western. The cast includes grizzled Hollywood veterans such as Richard Brake, who plays Joe Chill ‘Batman Begins,’ and Gene Jones, famous for that gas station scene in ‘No country for old men,’ alongside some fresh new faces.

However, most of the film relies on Jim Cummings’ performance as the aforementioned knife salesman, as he sits in his window frame and completes crossword puzzles for most of the film. And occasionally he’d throw a woo at waitress Charlotte (Jocelin Donahue) for his Odachi knives. With twists and turns and a good dose of suspense to keep you on edge, it harkens back to grungy thrillers of the past that don’t happen that often these days. As we lurch from one bizarre event to another and encounter coincidental incidents that will keep you on edge, the inspirations behind this pulse-pounding thriller are worth delving into.

The last stop in Yuma County: a lawless land

‘The Last Stop in Yuma County’ is a fictional story born from Galluppi’s fascination with the Film Noir genre. It’s not a true story, but it is heavily steeped in the genre conventions that give rise to it. The film draws on the foundations of its morally empty world and the barren expanse of rural Arizona. Tapping into a setting is the prerogative of any storyteller and despite this being Francis Galluppi’s first feature film, the sun-drenched landscape of Yuma County provides the perfect backdrop for his lawless tale.

Remote, isolated and miles from the nearest town, the restaurant becomes our only point of contact throughout the film. As if watching a three-act play set in one location, we get an intimate look at the various actors who live there while they are stranded waiting for a fuel truck that never comes. In a manner strongly reminiscent of Tarantino, the film’s real unit of exchange is one of tension. From images that linger on characters to conversations with a slow but meandering tone: the sources of inspiration for Gallupi’s film are numerous.

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In Tarantino’s ‘Hateful Eight,’ a bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) is stranded in a lodge after a snowstorm hits. Surrounded on all sides by snow and a shelter full of people with their own agendas at play, the bounty hunter must fend off all kinds of opposition and make sure he makes it out alive. The premise and nature of the story are similar to the story set in ‘The Last Stop in Yuma County’. In Galluppi’s version, two bank robbers run out of gas and become stranded in a rural restaurant as they await rescue in the manner of a fuel truck.

Richard Brake and Nicholas Logan, who play the bank robbers, are said to be brothers in the film. A similar relationship is seen in David Mackenzie’s neo-Western film “Hell or High Water,” in which two brothers rob a series of banks in a setting and era very similar to Yuma County. Both films are new generation westerns that seem to deal with the question of morality in a remote and lawless backdrop. Gallupi’s influences are strong modern installations within an old genre full of classics.

‘The Last Stop to Yuma County’ sometimes feels like a familiar excursion into already mapped territory. From countless cherry-picked references to past films to nods and tributes to others, it’s dangerous territory to tread into. But Gallupi clearly knows what he’s doing, despite his apparent inexperience as a director. He even admits that the various influences behind his film sometimes made him self-conscious. Talking about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” in an interview, he said, “At the end of that movie, when the money was flying, I thought, ‘Oh my God, did I rip that off?’ Don’t know. I can’t confirm or deny it. It was definitely an inspiration, and probably subconsciously.”

True story or not, films rarely come out of nowhere. Filmmakers and storytellers do not exist in a vacuum and do not have a magical source from which free ideas or inspiration emerge every now and then. ‘The Last Stop to Yuma County’ is a debut filmmaker’s attempt to recreate his favorite film noir pieces from the past. A thriller that imitates the previous ones, but finds a way to still be new and fresh. They say art imitates art. But by extension, art also imitates reality. Francis Galluppi embodies that in “The Last Stop to Yuma County.”

Read more: Last stop in Yuma County: Exploring all the filming locations