Mollie’s family has been systematically murdered over the film’s first half, a process that culminates in the death of her last remaining sister, Reta (JaNae Collins). Her house is blown up in an attack organized by Ernest on the orders of his uncle. Here, we see the explosion only from Ernest’s horrified, if still complicit, perspective.
Martin Scorsese: You can see on his face here is that character who’s denying what subconsciously he knows is inevitable. The reckless danger, the reckless murder. Blowing up this house in the middle of a town, basically. It’s not out in the wilderness somewhere; it’s right in the center of town. That’s his sister-in-law in there. It hits home in a way. You could see it in Leo’s eyes: What is he doing? It’s the first time he begins to really doubt his uncle and everything that he’s in, but he doesn’t have enough courage. He doesn’t have any courage at all. He deludes himself into thinking this has got to be the end. It can’t go any further. It just can’t go any further. But here he is beginning to realize it may not stop.
Rodrigo Prieto: The lighting is a combination of incandescent light from light bulbs and fire light. So that was pretty dramatic. One thing that I found interesting is that, then when he starts walking in and we see the sister, Reta, the camera moves up, and we discover her in this position that’s very peaceful. Marty asked me to make it feel a little bit religious or like a statue of some sort in the church—this special light on her that’s not very realistic. From this moment on in the movie, things became a little more surreal, including the fire, and harsher, harder.
Scorsese: The image of the sister comes actually from David Grann, the description in the book that witnesses said that she looked like she was resting until they lifted her head. Therefore, when I said resting, she looks like an effigy of a saint in a way. In a way. I’m not saying she was, just that it has a peacefulness to it. A person at rest—and then you see the brutality when they try to lift her. So that was a very special moment. This is what he sees.