We follow Jesco White, a trouble-kid who has been sniffing (lighter) gas since the age of 6. Frequently sent to reform school and even an asylum of the insane he grows up with “bad thoughts” and “evil in [his] blood”. He tries to be good, but keeps getting problems with what is going on in his head and that usually results in violent outbursts, both to himself and to others. He has a few periods of “good times” such as when he runs into Cilla, but in the end, no good time lasts. Murphey has his film grow darker and darker when Jesco becomes more violent, resulting in disturbing and very vague scenes. There is a thick religious overtone with preachers that interupt the film and Jesco’s turn towards the faith at the end. Jesco’s father was a dancer and he taught it to Jesco too to keep him on the straight path. That dance is some kind of hillbilly-version of tap dancing, so the soundtrack is made with the all-American hillbilly music, but also here Murphey managed to get it pretty dark.
“White Lightnin'” is not an overly weird film, but sure has some moments that many viewers might not enjoy. I found the end quite impressive myself.