(director/writer: Braden Croft; screenwriter: story by Croft; cinematographer: Braden Croft; editors: Graham Smith, Jay Wiltzen; music: Steve Hughes; cast: Alex D. Mackie (Oliver Lorenz), Brittney Grabill (Claire), Diane Wallace (Dr. Peck), Ryland Alexander (Ronnie), Samara Sedmak (Janet Lorenz), Braden Croft (Ray), Zachary Parsons-Lozinski (Todd), Bill Moroziuk (Dr. Schmidt), Ben Bucholtz (Bearded Housemate); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Braden Croft, Elizabeth Levine, Adrian Salpeter, Samantha Sheplawy; BMC Pictures; 2012-Canada)
“It works best as an unsettling mood film, one that overcomes its shaky plot… .”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The debut film of the Canadian Braden Croft (“Feed The Gods”/”True Fiction”) is this expansive micro-budget psycho-drama, that plays out as a cultish character study of a mentally ill paroled inmate who is a schizophrenic with violent homicidal urges. It works best as an unsettling mood film, one that overcomes its shaky plot and its fuzzy line it draws about determining what is real or an hallucination. It takes place in a bland Edmonton, Canada, during a time the climate is mild.
The film opens with a bang, as an older man sits at his desk looking over some papers and smoking a pipe before pulling out a gun from his desk and without warning kills himself. This is followed up by a well-schooled doctor (Bill Moroziuk) in psychology, who knew the suicide as a brilliant colleague surgeon and knows his mentally ill son Oliver Lorenz (Alex D. Mackie). The doctor rattles on about lobotomies and how it’s the aim of medicine to cure every patient.
In the next scene, the twenty-something meek-looking Oliver, who has been incarcerated at a mental hospital penal facility for the last six-years for committing a violent act (what it is, is never disclosed), is now being paroled for good behavior on the recommendation of his therapist, Dr. Peck (Diane Wallace). Oliver closes the deal when he tells the parole board that he “wants to be a good person.” Under the terms of the supervised parole, he resides in a half-way house under the supervision of Dr. Peck.
Dr. Peck arranges for the former brilliant Harvard medical student to get a janitor’s job at an abortion clinic, after the first factory job offered has Oliver so upset with a chatty fellow worker he locked himself in a room. Against the advice of Dr. Peck, Oliver takes out an attractive nurse at the clinic, Claire (Brittney Grabill), whom he becomes obsessed with.
While having a drink with Claire in a rowdy bar, Oliver, not on his meds, begins to hallucinate. He’s urged by his alter ego, a voice in his head with the name Ronnie (Ryland Alexander), who in this case is seen in person, to take the nurse hostage in her car and drive to spots his dad might have left medical papers on the secret to curing him. At first he places her in the car trunk and then lets her sit bound in the front seat with him driving. It now turns into one of those serial killer road movies. The threat of violence becomes real, and occurs when Oliver goes into a convenience store for some snacks and apparently slaughters offscreen a worker. Claire, who at this point could easily escape, but instead remains because she either really thinks she can help this socially awkward deeply wounded sicko or is suffering from a Stockholm syndrome (both explanations made no sense to me, but they’re possible).
In any case, Croft makes the most out of his tiny budget and comes up with an arresting small film that points out the obvious but does it emphatically–that you can’t always help a psychopath.
Mackie makes for a convincing loony, while Grabill makes her overly-sympathetic nurse role seem reasonably believable.
It shows Croft as a talented young filmmaker to watch, who maybe with a bigger budget could get more into his passion for horror movies. For me, I saw some sparks of originality and a lot of David Cronenberg in the film, and that’s a good thing.
REVIEWED ON 4/12/2020 GRADE: B