Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Accidental Incest

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Accidental Incest
Directed by Richard Griffin
Scorpio Film Releasing
102 minutes, 2014 / 2015 

Richard Griffin is a trans director. No, no, what I mean is that he readily and easily moves among various genres and sub-genres. And although he has remained somewhat auteur, he rarely keeps his feet on solid cinematic ground. For that, we, the viewers, are lucky. That I'm reviewing two of his films in two separate blogs in a row rather than combining them says something.

For the most recent, Accidental Incest, Griffin and writer / collaborator Lenny Schwartz (an award winning playwright!) delve into the broad bedroom sex farce. It’s quite extreme, but probably no more risqué than, say the absurdist budoir comedies of Tudor-period France, or Chaucer’s the “The Wife of Bath” in its Medieval days. That is to say, this is fuckin’ risqué, Jack!

When we first meet our two self-proclaimed douchebag anti-hero protagonists, they are performing acts of narcissistic revelry, for which they must pay in some form or another. They are unhappy with their life situations, but not necessarily with their lifestyle choices, which would fit in well in any sex(y)-addict group. After each survives a near-death experience and meet some cool and attractive guardian angels, and then their marriages finally dissolve with a bang not a whimper, they find each other in a seedy hotel hallway. It is lust and love at first sight. But there is a problem they eventually learn, which the title makes obvious.

On the relatively masculine side of the equation, there is Milton (a nice, Jewish boy we learn), played with wide aplomb by Johnny Sederquist. He makes the Sean character from the television show Psych look like a mellow dude. Whatever the gender, whatever the drug, whatever the experience, he is there, and ready-willing-and-able. You can just tell Sederquist is having a blast in this role, and embraces his character wholeheartedly. He sort of reminded me of a living emoticon, with all emotions in the extreme, eyes always fiery happy, excitedly surprised, or even when sad.

The Yin to his Yang is Kendra, with Elyssa Baldassarri embodying her wild and crazy ways with abandon. Comfortable in her birthday suit (as was much of the cast), her zaftig form looks lovely on the screen (again, as was much of the cast). Baldassarri, who is playing her first leading feature-length role, is an attention grabber (in a good way), wearing Kendra’s thoughts and emotions on her face, looking seamless and organic, which tends to be troublesome for some when playing comedy this broadly.

One of the aspects of this film that I found refreshing in so many ways is there are a number of twists and turns that I just did not see coming, bringing huge smiles to my face. In other words there are a number of WTF moments, but it still works in this case because, like having all those clothes on Gilligan’s Island, you learn to accept the unexpected as it comes, even as it surprises you outta your skivvies.

As always, and to no surprise, however, is Griffin’s way with the look of the film. While giving a nod to photographer Jill Poisson (also for her work on many other Griffin’s releases), the pace of the film never lets up, and that is due in part to Griffin’s editing. It really is a joy ride (in this case be it roller coaster or Tilt-a-Whirl) that never lets up.
While the two leads are both interesting and fetching, there is a very large cast that is very generous with their talents and bodies throughout. For example, Jose Guns Alves, who tends to play tough characters from ghetto-style exorcising priests to soldiers, acts against form as “The Anxious Man” (as the credits list him), showing a humorous and non-threatening side, despite the murderous actions of his character. Also against type is the usually loveable Jamie Dufault, who is perhaps a bit too comfortable looking being a sociopathic …well, I won’t give it away. And the lovely Tonya Free was spot on as a conflicted love interest for one of the menagerie of crazies we get to meet.

Filmed guerilla-style through Rhode Island, home of Scorpio Releasing, there is still lots of set pieces where there are little, imaginative touches, such as the use of framed album sleeve covers on the walls. I noted Frank Zappa, Roxy Music (Country Life), Tom Robinson Band (Power in the Darkness); Josie Cotton (rare 12” single of “Johnny Are You Queer”; I have this one), and Soft Cell. Also the choice of using both black and white and color is a strong choice for a purposefully powerful albeit comedic film.

In James Clavell’s Shogun (the novel from 1975, not the Richard Chamberlain tele-film), the reader is introduced to Japanese society, showing local lords to be powerful with control of life and death of the peasants, and yet by the time we get deep into the story, we realize that the lower lords are nothing compared to those above them. Why bring this up? Well, when we meet Milton and Kendra in their solo openings, we are presented (among others) M/F anal sex, adultery and affairs with druggies in Mexican prisons, and it’s shocking. But as the story progresses, much like Clavell’s book, we find these two to possibly be arguably the sanest people in the story. Power-crazy Christians, people locked up and treated like dogs, an obsession with a strange choice in a film star, and soooo much more are just part of an ever increasing insanity level.

The original name of this film was Accidental Incest: The Musical (a wonderful extension). While not a full-fledged musical in this version (perhaps a future Anniversary re-release?), in three different occasions, a character bursts into song, including a hysterical rap by God (Aaron Andrade, in a cool, polar opposite role from his turn as a hyper-soldier in 2014’s Future Justice). And Jesse Dufault, who was spectacular as NuWave in 2014’s Sins of Dracula, has already proven he has a decent voice.

Two quick notes: be sure to catch director Griffin doing a silent Hitchcockian cameo as a bar patron about an hour in, and there is a throwaway joke at Adam Sandler’s expense that almost made me want to say, “Oh, snap!” (but I didn’t; I’m not cool like that). Oh, and did I mention that there is a lot of nudity from various genders including full frontals and full – er – backals?

If you were to chart Griffin’s films on an X-Y axis, with his slasher-comedy Murder University (2012) being the median, this film would be as far to the side of outrageous comedy as the dead serious and excellent Normal (2013) would be on the opposite spectrum. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it works for me.

While mostly true for the male characters, there is nothing stopping the swapping of genders as a point of desire. Even with the occasional Seth Rogan-esk slur, such as “fudgepacker,” it’s generally acknowledged that people are sexual beings. However, I believe there does need to be some equal line-crossing on the female side; I’m not one of those who get off on watching lesbianism, but it’s only fair to make it even, doncha think?

And with that last paragraph in mind, I have a fantasy that this film would play in every single screen in Indiana, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Texas (at least), with mandatory viewing from the locals. Then I’d like to see Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence and Ted Cruz have to act out some of its scenes (I’m thinking the one’s with Kevin Killavey as Tool). That would be as much exquisite fun as this film.

* * *
Postscript in May 2016, as I had reviewed the VoD version and acquired the DVD later:

I finally had the opportunity to check out the commentary track, which is filled with about a half dozen people, such as the two leads, the director, the writer, and the producer. Other an an occasional overmoduation (i.e., a buzz) when they all laugh at the same time, it was quite an interesting conversation full of information, as well as stories. Everyone was respectful and not over-talking each other, thankfully. Enjoyable from beginning to end. 

As a personal note, it was great that the director referenced this very review (through quote, but not by name, which is totally fine with me) about Johnny at the almost 6-minute mark. Thanks, Richard!

No comments:

Post a Comment