Werner Herzog‘s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? is, in my mind, a major Toronto Film Festival attraction. Has there ever been a Herzog film that didn’t haunt and mesmerize on some level? How can this latest be an exception, I’m asking myself, with Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny, Brad Dourif and Michael Pena in the lead roles? Well, I guess it could. Anyone and anything can disappoint. To be off your game is human. (What was that gung-ho finale in Rescue Dawn about?)

I just have one question — what’s with the “Ye” in the title? The movie doesn’t take place in a Quaker or Amish community. (It was shot in LA, San Diego, Tijuana and Peru.) Is the title taken from a line from some noteworthy poem? It seems arch and pretentious and precious. Frankly? The more I think about it the more worried I am about the film as a whole. It has to be explained by Herzog now, or certainly before Toronto — that’s the only way out of this.