Joe Haladin: The Case Of The Missing Sister

Feb 22, 2023

Joe Haladin: The Case Of The Missing Sister is a sequel to His Stretch Of Texas Ground, though the title character is recast, and the filmmaker behind the first one, Ralph Cinque, only writes this entry. Jody Stelzig steps in to direct this private investigator mystery involving a religious cult.
Joe (Samuel French) is no longer a law enforcement officer and has started his own business. He’s hired by socialite Elosie Slaughter (Mina Hegaard) to discover if her twin nieces, Colette and Abigail (Reagan Kelly), are okay, as they are refusing any contact with her. But, there are two catches to their legal guardian’s request: the siblings are 19 and are members of a cult-like church that likes its privacy. But Joe is persistent, meets with the Reverend Case (Clinton Springer), and informs him of what he was hired for. Case says he’ll pass the request along but cannot force them to do anything.
Colette agrees to meet with Joe and his capable assistant Lacey (Bethany Becker), but Abigail does not. When relaying the information he obtained to Eloise, Joe learns that Colette lied to him about a few things. Now, he must uncover the truth and hope that the twins are okay. All the while, Joe must deal with family drama, including meeting his son’s fiance.

“…Joe learns that Colette lied to him about a few things. Now, he must uncover the truth…”
Joe Haladin: The Case Of The Missing Sister does not start with its best foot forward. To be honest, the first 12 minutes of the film are a trainwreck of epically terrible proportions. For inexplicable reasons that have extremely limited bearing on the story, Cinque opens with Joe on trial. This is presumably for events from the first film, but possibly not. Either way, the prosecutor’s closing argument verges on contempt of court as he clearly hates the defendant. Even more egregious is the judge, who basically informs the jury to find Joe guilty, and when they don’t, he demands an explanation. How the f**k does this judge still have a job? It would be something if he wound up being corrupt and complicit somehow in the case that takes up the bulk of the film. But he never shows up again.
For that matter, how in the hell is this trial happening in, or around, the Texas county Joe was sheriff of? It is even more confusing when one realizes the case involves federal officers. Yes, this is a movie, but it still needs some semblance of reality so audiences can buy into what’s happening (doubly so because this isn’t some fantasy or supernatural thriller, just a dramatic mystery that is mostly plausible). What makes all this so frustrating is just how avoidable it is. The trial has nothing to do with the main narrative, so cut it entirely and bring the film to a tight 90 minutes, give or take. The opening title sequence already informs audiences that this is a sequel. So just add some more text that says “One year after those events and Joe Haladin is no longer sheriff,” or something to that effect.

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