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"Bryan Loves You" is the allegedly true story of an Arizona cult that
takes over a desert town and converts its people into Bryans. These
people worship Bryan, the son of a king who was killed many, many eons
ago. They don masks and go after anyone who doesn't submit to their
will, which seems to be no more than one or two people.
Let me lay it on the line: "Bryan Loves You" is possibly the most disappointing film of the fall 2008 season. I had been excited about this one since it was first announced... especially with this amazing list of guest stars. The love of my life, Tiffany Shepis. The biggest star in horror, George Wendt. Scream queen Brinke Stevens. Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman. And more. However, what this list of names failed to mention was how little any of them were in it (Stevens and Kaufman, under one minute... Shepis maybe five or six minutes, and Wendt five minutes maximum). So if you're watching the film for any of these people, prepare to be let down.
Also, the film works on a "found footage" premise, like "Blair Witch Project" (which it is compared to on the box and likely in other reviews). But the problem is... it doesn't work. There's too many camera shots, too many cases of scenes they wouldn't film, and many, many scenes where a camera wouldn't be found where the footage was shot. So, its attempt at realism fails miserably on that account. (Of course, as soon as you put real stars or known actors in your film, the amount of realism already decreases... Norm from "Cheers" being unrecognizable? Hardly.) The film was still watchable, and while it's not one of the better films I'll be seeing this year, it has some redeeming qualities. The writer-director-actor (Seth Landau) is clearly a talented guy. This film helped him perfect camera shots I'd love to see in future films, and his acting is the cream of the crop. He's pretty much the only actor who comes across as believable, with the possible exception of Brinke Stevens (who has too little screen time to judge).
I'm unclear how available the film is. Fangoria wrote a review -- far more critical than mine -- so the word is certainly getting out there. But without their approval, what stores will carry this one? Best Buy? Your local video store? Wal-Mart? I have run into it at Wal-Mart in a special Halloween section alongside other recent -- and better -- Anchor Bay titles such as "Breathing Room", and I suspect other stores may follow suit... this could turn into Anchor Bay's little mistake of 2008. Anyone who buys the film on a whim is likely to be let down. One reviewer summed it up as worse than watching a "six-hour musical version of 'Ben Hur' performed by a class of third-grade special-ed kids", and I think that pretty much says it all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A therapist from New York finds himself in danger when he reluctantly
crosses paths with a cult sweeping across Arizona. The cult's deity was
an heir to a throne, Bryan, who was slain(..his throat was slashed from
behind in his own castle)by a commoner dealt harshly by his community,
named Tanzi. The cult dress like Mormons and often wear a plain white
mask with black marks which carry the appearance of cracks. This group
brainwashes the unadorned, taking innocent outsiders unacquainted with
this spooky religion, running them through a psychiatric institute
until they are essentially zombies, as if their humanity were stripped,
soulless to servitude for Bryan.
The film is completely told through hand-held cam-corders and hidden security cameras, nearly everyone snooping has one, whether it be our hero, his stalkers or an outside crusader working with a quiet few hoping to defeat the cult and their schemes at enlarging through their brainwashing tactics. Tony Todd is a very disturbed narrator who introduces us to the various recorded documents of the evolution in terror for Jonathan(Seth Landau, who also wrote & directed)who is kidnapped by the Bryan cult after making some inquiries into their worship practices. We see inside their secret society and how they slowly gnaw at those they wish to include within their religion. Jonathan represents a rare case of someone who somehow hangs on despite the rigorous degrees of manipulation and psychological warfare induced over a span of time. Someone is on his side, however, who wishes to bring to an end the Bryan cult which has become a cancer across this desert community, Frenchette(Tom Noga)who plans to somehow break him out of the mental torture factory before he's affected by their powerful methods of mind control.
The film features a cast of B-movie horror cult icons such as Lloyd Kaufman as a "helper" who attempts to motivate Jonathan's acceptance of a mental reject claimed by the cult to be his alcoholic father. Scream queen, Tiffany Shepis portrays a nasty "psychiatrist", Cindy, who mistreats Jonathan, often interrogating him while administering drugs into his system, with Brinke Stevens as a nurse who works for the cult. George Wendt has a strange role as a wacky patient of Jonathan's. The hand-held style services the paranoia theme where escape from a place overrun by diabolical extremists is quite difficult because eyes are all around watching your every move. The film grew tiresome to me over time, specifically the never-ending brainwashing portion of this film, and a stupid decision by our hero at the end robs this scary tale of a bit of it's power and realism. I do not think Jonathan would make such an incredibly asinine decision to risk his life in such an unnecessary way after such an exhausting exercise towards his mind and body by this unwavering cult trying every way to break his will. I did feel Landau produces a credible account, to a certain extent, of how spooky and terrifying such an ordeal could be when one is trapped within such an established cult willing to resort to drastic measures to seize one's soul and mind. It was amazing that he had the ability to round up so many familiar faces, also including Daniel Roebuck(The River's Edge)as a professor who informs us of Bryan's history and how it relates to the cult that would form in his name. To me, the pacing lags a bit, and I wasn't quite convinced that such a cult could completely unify an entire community, even conforming a pal of Jonathan's. The gimmick of "footage found and brought to us as a warning tool" wore itself thin to me, but others might find it rewarding.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie follows in the steps of other "found footage" movies; except
that format just doesn't work with the script. Apparently, we are
supposed to believe that there are cameras everywhere and they cobbled
together the "footage" to make a movie. Sounds unbelievable? It is.
I should have listened to the other reviews and stopped myself from wasting my time with this. I ended up browsing the internet about a half an hour in, still listening to it with my headphones via YouTube. I would bounce back and forth between browser tabs, and believe me I wasn't missing much at all.
The story is unique, and the music is good. Everything else is badly executed. The characters are DUMB. I don't mean that they were just badly written, I mean that they did a lot of really stupid things throughout.
For instance, after all the protagonist did to escape from the sanitarium (a long section of the movie that relies on the comedic stereotypes of psychiatric institutionalization), he still ends up going back to one of the Bryan houses to "say goodbye in person." That's where the movie fades to black, apparently the audience is supposed to assume he got nabbed by the cultists. Again. Doh!
Tony Todd's opening sequence was acted well according to script, so it's not his fault he looked hysterical trying to build up anticipation for a movie that simply cannot deliver.
What more can I say? Please don't watch this movie.
I know a lot of people are probably like me. They stumbled upon this movie on YouTube one night while yearning for something to kill some time. I am sort of fascinated by the fact that they got this movie funded and got the guy from Candyman in this movie. But hey, an actor has to work. I usually like horror movies, and I even give the ones that people dislike a chance and usually find them to be entertaining. But no this film did not make one lick of sense. Everyone has pointed out what is wrong with this film, but I could not even watch enough to figure out what was wrong with it because it was so incoherent I had to go to bed to try to forget it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Is this meant to be funny? But no, cuz it's not even really funny in
that TOTALLY NOT meant to be funny way.... I like the premise but I'm
so offended by it's lame follow through. Could be way better. I almost
wish someone would remake it. But no one ever remakes movies this bad.
Which is mistake, yes? Why remake good movies? Remake this one.
OK - you need more. Well, there are 3 good actors in this movie and the writing is pretty good actually - tho, obviously, so rarely well delivered. I hate the fake/real quality of it. Like: it doesn't look fake and it doesn't look real. And like I said: I keep waiting for a big belly laugh. JUST as I think something's going to make me laugh it's not funny anymore. And it's just never dramatic enough to be compelling otherwise.
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