Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Fine Housekeep

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2016
Images from the Internet

Fine Housekeep
Written, directed, shot and edited by Trevor Bather
Trashmonger Video
57 minutes, 2015
Full movie free HERE

If you will indulge me the flash of ego, I’m a smart guy. I have a Master’s degree from a credible university, a long reach in cinema history, and know how to put together a metaphor. And yet, when it comes to a certain level of esoterica and abstraction, I get a bit lost.

As an undergrad, I had a professor who was into expressionist and surrealistic films by the likes of Stan Brakhage, and would show us their works such as Dog Star Man (1961-64). Without being able to read the films due to lack of narrative storylines, I was completely lost. It’s another reason I’ve avoided James Joyce’s novels Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). This situation was handled beautifully in a 1963 animated short, The Critic (1963; starring Mel Brooks, and which won an Oscar for Animated Short, by the way). I know I’m digressing, but there is a bit of that here, as well, though I am hardly comparing this film to them.

The Wife
A man with wild eyes credited as The Husband (Ben Kepley) is sitting in his living room. Meanwhile, The Wife (Tyler Antoine), whose face throughout the film is covered in cream (looks like the shaving kind) and has cucumber wedges over her eyes, lolls around on a couch. They are both in a stream of consciousness state (drug induced, perhaps?), daydreaming about themselves in various situations. For example, he imagines himself as Jesus, in robes and carrying a wooden cross medallion (like the size Eastern Orthodox priests wear); she pictures herself dancing with a deranged looking football player?/fan? (Andrew Freud), who is often smacking and pursing his lips. We also follow his fantasy, at some point.

About half way through, there is a nicely done gory scene that is reminiscent of the Black Dahlia murder in 1947 (I’m willing to bet it was an influence), which is actually key to a way to look at this film. Rather than just being surrealistic, it would perhaps be better categorized (if that’s possible) into Transgressive Cinema, a movement come to fruition in the 1980s with the likes of Richard Kern and Nick Zedd. I kept expecting Lydia Lunch to show up at any moment. While the original group used S8mm film, this one is Shot-on-Video (SOV). However, it is the shaky camera, lack of dialog and the repetitive industrial electronic music that help indicate the genre.

Then there’s the Bazooka Joe redheaded serial killer… I call him that because of his tendency of covering the lower half his face with his turtleneck sweater.

In the end, the fault lies not in the stars but in myself. What I mean by that is, much like Black Metal or Electronica, I have very little point of reference. Simply put, I honestly don’t know if this film is brilliant or twaddle. Even with its listed $100 budget, you can tell a hell of a lot of work went into the editing of this baby (did I mention the amount of abuse a baby dolly with a gold-painted head is given in the second act? Uff da!).

Honestly, I wish I could give you a profound and deep analysis of what the cream on the face meant, or what the (lawn) grass “Jesus” had on his lap was for that made him so happy, or even the apparent affection between the football guy and the killer. Not a clue.

I’ve long-time learned that a reviewer or critic (whichever you want to use as a reference) is more a gatekeeper than a gate. What that means is that one could read a review and then go watch it anyway. Never let someone’s opinion (or in my case ignorance) stop or compel you from seeing a work. Decide for yourself. It’s easy in this case, because the film is free on YouTube (see the link above, or the trailer, below).

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