Actors: Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett
Director: Joe Swanberg
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: May 27, 2014
Run Time: 77 minutes
Joe Swanberg helped cultivate the mumblecore movement in the recesses of low-budget independent cinema alongside the far more successful Duplass brothers, and I have to disclose my barest distaste for these films. With that being said, Swanberg’s attempt to blend the style with a typical serial killer narrative ends up resulting in a film that is only shades off from being softcore porn, from the nonsensical male fantasy narrative to the bad acting between cheesy sex scenes. The film’s only decently written dialogue comes from the main character, whose distasteful choice in art-form is defended by his claim that it needs no defending, which is most definitely a stand-in for Swanberg’s explanation for why his films are so shitty.
The plot (if you can call it that) involves a series of murders which may or may not be related, being investigated by a detective named Michael Bamfeaux (Simon Barrett). His investigation of one murder brings him to a photographer initially intending to use the victim as a model in one of his shoots. Billy the photographer/hipster artist (played by Adam Wingard) takes up a majority of the screen time, whether it is in his lustful fetish photo shoots or the routine of seduction following the creating his ‘art.’ There are a random assortment of vaguely similar actresses filling all of the rest of the roles, but their personalities and actions hardly ever seem based on reality quite as much as Swanberg’s fantasy of how women think.
Cast in the leading roles are filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, best known for You’re Next. They act, but mostly just in their own films. Having collaborated with Swanberg in the V/H/S franchise, I suppose it was just a lazy choice to cast his friends rather than actors more believable. Wingard is plenty believable as the sleazy photographer, he is simply not a person I would choose to spend more than a conversation with, and this film forces us to endure him repeatedly having the same conversation over the course of the 78-minute running-time. Barrett is not anywhere near believable as a police detective, on the other hand. I can’t imagine him making it through a single day of the police academy, and everything from his posture to the way he speaks comes off as phony, despite a bevy of burnt-out cop clichés in Swanberg’s vapid screenplay. You would be better off watching a cheap soft-core film for quality entertainment.
The DVD special features include a commentary track with Swanberg, Wingard, and Barrett. There is also a photo gallery and trailer.
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