CIVIL DEAD, THE
(director/writer: Clay Tatum; screenwriter: Whitmer Thomas; cinematographer: Joshua Hill; editor: Clay Tatum; music: Max Whipple; cast: Clay Tatum (Clay), Whitmer Thomas (Whit), Teresa Lee (Belle), Christian Lee Huts (Belle’s date), Whitney Weir (Whitney), DeMorge Brown (Hippie), Anna Seregina (Cabin Couple), Chris Thayer (Cabin Couple), Robert Longstreet (Arnold), Budd Diaz (Budd); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kasandra Baruch/Mike Marasco/Clay Tatum/Whitmer Thomas; Utopia; 2022)
“A low-key different kind of buddy comedy, that’s oddly affecting.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The feature film debut of director Clay Tatum, who co-writes and stars in this sweet, plotless, slacker buddy comedy with Whitmer Thomas.
In Los Angeles, the aimless idler photographer, Clay (Clay Tatum), is told by his supportive artist wife Whitney (Whitney Weir) to do something worthwhile while she’s on a business trip out of town.
Clay thereby runs some small financial scams and takes some photographs in the city, when he unexpectedly meets an old school friend, Whit (Whitmer Thomas). He’s a former high-school big shot who failed as an actor and is now deceased. He’s a ghost strangely invisible to everyone but Clay.
Whit is a pitiful guy, suffering from a bad case of loneliness, who in this weird and slightly written ghost story can get on your nerves, but also can be endearing (which sums up how I felt about the pic).
By the climax Whit kind of grows on you, as maybe you get a few laughs and shed a few tears over his sad tale.
In any case, this is a low-key different kind of buddy comedy, that’s oddly affecting.
It was a crowd favorite at the Sundance Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 2/16/2023 GRADE: B-