Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s first film – Resolution – was nucking futs. Impossible to stick the label of a specific genre on it, this ambiguous piece of art skirted around horror, drama and mystery to both confound and inspire in equal measure. The storyline seemed simple; a man, looking to save his best friend from the throes of methamphetamine addiction, ties him up in an abandoned cabin and induces withdrawal. The end result though placed a set of paddles on the chest of independent cinema and yelled “clear”, before jolting it back to life with the force of impressive ingenuity.
Their second feature SPRING has thankfully continued their ravenous desire to deliver something wholly original, and once more the project is based around a simple narrative. Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a sous chef, who following a bar fight, which leaves man severely beaten, finds himself hunted by both the victim and the police. After losing his job and with little to stay in his home town for, he feels the only escape is to book a plane ticket for a faraway destination. Italy it is, and here he’s about to cross paths with a woman who harbours a dark, primordial secret.
The opening third has some brief and routine exposition, as well as a boorish Nick Nevern who mercifully exits stage left early on. It’s when Evan finally meets Louise (Nadia Hilker) that Spring really begins to affix itself to your heart; his first brush with her set to the dreamy score by Jimmy LaValle (go buy his album with Mark Kozelek) that elevates Spring to another level. Those of you with fond memories of Resolution won’t bat an eyelid at the lack of the red stuff in the first third, but the uninitiated with be no doubt left scratching their heads at the dearth of horror. It’s at this point though, that there’s a subtle shift in tone, albeit one that initially stays rooted to the background enabling Evan and Louise’s relationship to be the focus.
Spring is impossible to define – but that’s good! I’m bored of pre-packed, microwavable, artificially coloured templates that only seek to exist for the sole purpose of taking a place on a rigged supermarket chart. Combining some lush Italian vistas with glop of murky body horror, it’s Euro-Cronenberg by way of Richard Linklater. Does it have mass appeal? No – but Spring is the type of film that you just adore to be your little secret, ripe for discovery by people who love their horror with a sprig of creativity and a dash of invention.
“Will haunt you for days” boasts the generic grey-tinted sleeve complete with generic spooky looking house of 101 Films’ THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET. What DID haunt me for days was trying to find where they got that quote from, as sadly Mr. Internet was lacking with any viable answers to its origin. Sadly for this DTV horror, the drabness of the sleeve was echoed through the excruciatingly tedious running time of the feature itself.
Compelled to escape a troubled past and start anew, Amy (Jessica Sonneborn) moves to a small town in Massachusetts. She thinks she’s found the perfect refuge within a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood. However, it’s not long before she realises that everything in this tranquil suburb is not as it seems, especially at the house across the street.
Boasting a cast that would convince most genre aficionados to reach into their purse or wallet – Eric Roberts, Ethan Embry, Alex Rocco and Courtney Gains – The House Across the Street matches the drab paintjob that adorns it, with a lack of colour and vibrancy that it so desperately needs. It’s a maddeningly obtuse feature that fights desperately to create a sense of intrigue, yet instead only succeeds in nurturing an embittered feeling of detachment and disinterest.
…and finally, the award for this weeks’ most unrepresentative artwork goes to GOODBYE WORLD. The cover (below) boasts a shotgun wielding observer looking on as the city around him explodes into fire, seeing turmoil as buildings collapse and helicopters circle the smoke-filled air. It’s somewhat of a surprise to discover the film within being a gentle fusion of The Big Chill crossed with John Sayles’ The Return of the Secaucus Seven.
When a mysterious terrorist attack causes chaos in the cities, a group of friends take refuge in their countryside cabin. But the challenges of living in a post-apocalyptic world soon take their toll on relationships within the group. It’s a dialogue heavy film, and at times it’s really well written, but the key to any enjoyment from it is purely down to your level of expectation. Therefore, if you’re plucking it off the supermarket shelf with the notion that you’re getting I Am Legend, then reach back into that trolley and save your seven quid. If, on the other hand, you have a penchant for flawed independent cinema then this might be for you. Its downside is that there does seem to be an annoying inability for the characters to fully realise they’re in a catastrophic scenario as they regale in tales of years gone by. That said, some of the dialogue is really quite excellent which leads to a schizophrenic love / hate relationship with a film that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.