(director/writer: Brian Patrick Butler; cinematographer: Ray Gallardo; editor: Brian Patrick Butler; music: Stefan Krut/ Brian Patrick Butler; cast:  Nick Young (General Gore), Alexandra Slade (Diane Keating), Michael C. Burgess (Beranger), Kate Schott (Eva), Kevin Smith (Thin Man), Luke Anthony Pensabene (Ferguson), Neil Raymond Ricco (Ignacio); Runtime: 50; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; Brian Patrick Butler: Charybdis Pictures; 2020)

“It’s not a film for everyone.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brian Patrick Butler is a young actor turned director who filmed this ambiguous dystopian sci-fi film about the end of the world (there was no clarity for instance if the cause of the apocalypse was man-made or some other reason). It’s shot mostly in black and white (while the pre-apocalyptic sequences are all in color). The 50-minute film is divided into chapters, which gives the viewer a chance to muse over the nonlinear narrative, that’s conceived as a reflection of the political anxieties of the time. It’s something that it nailed our experiences in the period of the unlikely election of the crazy man Trump and also the isolation and paranoia we are still recovering from because of the world-wide pandemic.

It was filmed in 2017 but issues from post-production held it up until its release in 2020. At that inopportune time, the COVID-19 pandemic preempted its release plans.

The film’s opening line seem reasonable: “The world is a beautiful chaotic mess.” But in its execution it takes on more the chaotic look than the beautiful one, which is not a necessarily bad thing.

It’s set in a grim post-apocalyptic setting after some kind of a catastrophic war. The white macho middle-aged eccentric American, General Gore (Nick Young), has been living for a long time in an enormous underground bunker and feels he’s losing his mind in such bleak surroundings. He lets into his part of the bunker a gay, Black, aspiring experimental filmmaker Diane Keating (Alexandra Slade), who wakes up in a part of the bunker with dead bodies and flees, making her way to the General’s ravaged part of the bunker. The opposites take shelter together from the outside horrors, in a survival mode. It’s revealed to the two polar opposites that the world’s current state is unstable and they might be the only two people left in the world.  

Brian Patrick Butler has described his film as “Beckett and Sartre meet John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.” I found it to be a strangely surreal nonlinear film with bizarre visuals and dialogue.

What I couldn’t figure out is if this was a dream or something real or one of my old acid trips kicking in. I chose to accept it as a strange arty experimental film. Maybe a film only for the few willing to accept its strangeness, or those who enjoyed interpreting the open-ended film the way they see fit whether right or wrong and not having its meaning spoon-fed to them by the filmmaker. In other words. it’s not a film for everyone.

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