Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: Don’t You Recognise Me?

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

Don’t You Recognise Me?
Written and directed by Jason Figgis
October Eleven Pictures
80 minutes, 2015 / 2016

In an Amusing Ourselves to Death world, according to Neil Postman in 1985, entertainment becomes our focus, rather than the real world around us, leading to the collapse of culture. Examples of this abound, with some people walking off cliffs in search of non-existent Pokémon Go characters, others drive two-ton machines full speed down a highway or crowded street while texting. There are also those who would rather watch sports than participate in them or other actually important social contract behavior such as voting for a viable leader; they’d rather opinionate without doing the research, or instead watch a woman with three dragons take sword to kings on television. But it runs both ways, as not only are there viewers, but there are also the creators of such distractions.

In Ireland, as we are introduced to this story, is Tony Aiello (Matthew Toman), a slimy Geraldo-style “journalist” with no moral compass, whose purpose in life is to find people to interview, and make them look as foolish in documentaries. With his film crew (Alan Rogers on camera and the cute Emma Dunlop on sound boom), he has lined up his latest victims, obtained from social media contact: the Gallagher family, small-time operators who are willing to let Aiello into their world. But right from the start, the viewer knows that something is rotten in the state of County Dublin. The title of the film even hints at it.

I promise I won’t go into spoiler alert territory, but it soon becomes obvious that while Aiello is playing the Gallaghers for his own gain, the tide will soon turn for ominous reasons.

The Gallaghers and their crew are a nutsy bunch, showing that a level of insanity may run in this family and group, possibly on the Usher level (the EA Poe story, not the singer, so back off). K (Jason Sherlock) is the pretty face that draws the flies to the spider, as it were, but it is brother Daz (Darren Travers) who is in charge of the operation (and it’s Travers who steals just about any scene he’s in). Also aiding them silently in a possible Leatherface nod is Nickey Gallagher, aka Babyface, for reasons that are immediately obvious (played menacingly by the very muscular and intimidating director, Jason Figgis).

If I may pull back and digress here a mo, this documentary style filming is an offshoot of the found footage subgenre, in that those on camera filming the story are actually shooting the film, as well. There is a nice touch as the scenes cut between the two camera, and you hear the differences in the sound from each (the quality changes between the boom and the home videocamera, for example, or those closer to the shooting are louder than those further away). For once, not balancing the sound makes sense.

Starting off slow, the menacing and alarm levels start to kick in at about 15 or 20 minutes (the first of which are used for exposition), and then continue to increase exponentially. By the time everything is explained out, the viewer will cringe, but at the same time has some sense of identification with the retribution-seeking Gallaghers.

Darren Travers as Daz
Joining the family is some friends, including two camera people (video and still), and the hair obsessed Terese (Shauna Ryan), an intense woman who does not take kind to insult and is often saying, “You take that back!” There is actually a lot of repetition of dialog by many of the characters, such as Daz’s insistence to just about everyone, “Are you gettin’ this?!” It actually makes it even more frightening rather than “samey” as you see the level of madness – both in the level of anger and craziness – reaches the crescendo. That aspect also gave it a real feeling, perhaps of improv on the part of the actors. Anyway, it works.

If I could change any one thing in this film, I would add subtitles, as sometimes the accents get a bit thick, but it’s always easy to pick out the oft used “fook.” Perhaps the option will be on the DVD release, but there are parts where I really had no idea what was being said literally, but the intent was loud and clear so I don’t think I really missed anything.

There is little blood in the film, and much of the actual violence is done off-screen, but that does not hinder the level of both malevolence and banality of evil that are present. Bleak has its place in life, and this story certainly lends itself to just that. In fact, it is the quality of the story and the compassion for the characters that actually arises out of that despair, even with the excess violence.

Figgis seems to revel in the bleak, such as in his previous film reviewed on this blog, Children of a Darker Dawn (HERE). That being said, it should be added that he excels in it, as well, even with the feeling that it could have been edited down a bit. However, it is also enhanced by the mostly subtly and dissonant notes of a really fine score by Michael Richard Plowman.

Sure there is no sign of cell phones, nicely making the timing of the film a bit up in the air, but even so the prevalence of technology still manages to make itself felt, as both sides of the table document the situation, including some group shots of both victims and victors, even though in the long run, everybody loses a bit of their own soul, and not just to the image as some religions believe about taking pictures.

Film's Trail to Be Added Shortly...

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