Dakota Fanning compels as a mute midwife whose inability to speak is not, we soon learn, an accident of birth. Liz is forced to choose between saving a mother-to-be and her baby, and her choice doesn't sit well with the newly arrived reverend (Guy Pearce) -- he feels Liz has sinned by making a decision that is the sole province of God.
Brimstone is relentlessly grim in a manner suggesting that Koolhoven reread Blood Meridian and tasked himself with one-upping Cormac McCarthy. The instrument he has set to that task Pearce's the unnamed man of God, a Judge Holden–like entity whose Old Testament fury manifests in self-flagellation and increasingly over-the-top violence. But Pearce can't make the words sing the way they need to, and Brimstone's thorough, self-consciously expansive style is more momentum-killing than revelatory. By the time Liz and the reverend's backstories are filled in, you may find yourself shifting in the pews and wishing the rapture would hurry up already.