Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Binge

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

Written, directed, edited, etc., by Wesley Mellott
109 minutes, 2014
Thinking Arts Entertainment

Most of us probably know a guy like Max (Andrew Glessner). He’s the kind of dude who only puts the glass down when it’s empty, which is often, and doesn’t always remember much because of it, like why the car has a dent, or the reason the woman he is attracted to is mad at him. The person I know like Max equates beer as “soda” (well, in his terminology, “pop”), and will easily drink a six pack or more between supper and sleep, after the whisky and Cokes he had with the meal.

Max has a drinking problem, and is slowly coming to that realization, along with others, such as that he has offended the female friend he believes he loves and wants to go to the next level (i.e., sex), Miranda (Bex Etter), who rocks the hell out of an angel Halloween costume. To gain his life back, and hopefully Miranda, Max makes the big decision to fly sober, starting by dumping the hard stuff and replacing his fridge full of beer with bottles of agua. Note that this is all in the trailer, so no spoilers here.

As the months roll by between New Year’s and Halloween, and the clearer he gets, the more he starts remembering some gaps. However, they come and go in snippets, and make no sense to him. It gave me just enough clues, though, so that I kinda figured out some of it. Meanwhile, there is someone mysterious who keeps tempting Max with drink sporadically through his recovery (which he does Cold Turkey without AA).

Andrew Glessner is Max
Max is an everyman, even if every man isn’t an alcoholic. We are given some reasons why his life has gone down this road through a nice exposition scene with him giving a soliloquy to a therapist friend (as a side note, this person is the only one at the Halloween party that doesn’t wear a costume. Hmm, I wonder how that made him feel… But I digress…). The question I’m having is it nurture or nature: his childhood guilt or family medical history, but as much as I like exposition, this is my internal monologue responding, it probably won’t be yours.

Glessner does a really nice job both making the alky Max annoying, and the sober Max a sympathetic character. As he is in most scenes, the film really does revolve around his character, so his strong performance helps things. Etter is nice and perky, with a charming smile, so even when she’s perturbed at Max, you feel for her. This is totally neither here nor there, but she reminds me of a singer in Nashville, though I can’t think who it is. Don’t ask, I can’t explain.

The film mostly moves at an even, though slow pace as we get to know some of the characters (which is nice for a change). Even when some of them act like complete assholes in certain situations, it’s easier to feel compassion rather than just “I hate that guy, I can’t wait till they kill him off,” like is so prevalent in slasher movies where jerks = enjoyable fodder to the killer.

Bex Etter is Miranda
But this is not that, it’s more a mystery and thriller than anything else. While the first two parts (which I call Wet, and Drying) are pretty smooth going, the film ramps up for the third act, thanks in part to being shot as single-camera scenes. It has some effective and good looking violent moments (and more than one extended vomit scene), but it’s not some mystical incognito bruiser killing randomly slashing anyone that crosses his path. Well, there is sort of a masked sort of bad guy, but it’s more a matter of planned timing and directed motive than anything else. But, again, I won’t go into details, I promise.

An interesting aspect of this film, and I’m sure people in the trade would not be happy with it, is that the production is entirely crewed by the actors themselves (being on a micro-budget), but it looks consistent and the shots are well framed and lit (especially the post-Halloween party scene, in the rain).

It’s a “small picture,” to be sure, as is indicated by its budgetary restraints, but everyone obviously does their best to keep the quality going. If you’re going for the big bang swingin’ by the entrails, well, try Hollywood blockbusters; if what you want is a decent story with characters to which you can relate on some level, now yer talkin’. Usually I’m wary about films that earn a lot of festival awards, as many of them win because of the Festival board trying to show how intellectual they are – or goofy ones to show how cool they are – but this one, which has a really nice resume of Fest showings and “Best Ofs,” seems like a good choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment