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Wesley Cash (2004)
The first film of Bandwagon Films, Wesley Cash was directed by Will James Moore and stars Chad Mathews. It is the story of a man who goes home to build a life, only to discover that everything in his life is being ripped away and he must try to find a way to make it right. The story starts in the middle, and through flashbacks the plot begins to unfold. As events move forward Wesley's simple journey home becomes a quest for survival and revenge. Moore has written a compelling story which balances quiet dialogue scenes, fast paced chases, tense confrontations and energetic fight scenes. Mathews commands our attention in all of his scenes, and his emerging talent is evident.
Much of the supporting cast does an excellent job, as well. The most memorable to me was Tex Marshal as Sheriff Sonny Crockett. His character adds a welcome bit of levity to what can at times be a heavy film. The soundtrack by Jonathan Case and the band Restaurant is unique and a perfect accompaniment to the film's style. Cuts to the music and its distinctive rhythm help to set the perfect mood for each scene. The scenery of South Texas is used to its full extent, and at moments is breathtaking. In a few cases the lines are somewhat awkward, but not enough to take you out of the story, and it adds to the realistic feel of the entire film.
Wesley Cash is a perfect example of why some films require a second viewing. It has a short run time for a feature, and because of that it moves fast enough to keep even the most distractible viewer interested. The fast pace of the plot and the fact that the story isn't told in chronological order can present an issue if the viewer does not pay close attention. The first time I watched Wesley Cash, I was left with a number of lingering questions. Upon my second viewing, I discovered the answers were already there. At first glance, I would have given Wesley Cash a 6, maybe a weak 7. But after a second look I would give it an 8.5. As that's not allowed, I feel an 8 is more than justified.
I'm very impressed with this film and look forward to seeing where the filmmakers go next.
Great Indie Horror meets Social Commentary!
I wasn't sure what to expect from Driftwood. There were no trailers to go by and I resisted reading reviews as they are usually biased against real horror. All I really knew is that it was directed by Tim Sullivan and starred Raviv Ullman. I should start by saying that I've been a fan of Raviv's since he was still Ricky. I used to watch Phil of the Future, even though I was 19 when it premiered. I know that isn't a reason to like a movie, but it does help.
The main reason I like Driftwood is the story. Ullman plays David, a 16 year old boy who is sent to an "attitude adjustment" camp after the death of his older brother. It is soon evident that the camp is more about punishment than reform. As David struggles to adjust to the harsh conditions, he is haunted by visions of a former Driftwood resident. He soon discovers that the boy's death was not an accident, and that solving the mystery may be his only way out. I was in middle school when Columbine happened and in high school for 9/11. I'm a part of the generation that had their world crumble down around them and then tried to build it back up. Our school had bomb threats that lead to metal detectors and security cameras. I knew kids like the residents of Driftwood, I was even friends with some of them, and I can tell you that most of them were just confused, adolescence does that. I've grown past that part of my life but I'm still close enough to remember what it was like. I have a nephew who is 16, he reminds me of David in a lot of ways. His parents freaked out when he started painting his nails black, dyed his hair blue and got his ear pierced, they weren't sure how to handle it. I knew it was just a sign he was a teenager. Last winter, in a fit of anger, he punched a wall and broke his hand. It scared me and his parents; luckily they are handling his issues in a better way, better than sending him away anyway. Driftwood is unique in that it takes on a real issue, the fact that teenage angst has become a problem to be solved not by love and understanding, but by punishment. The idea that a child should be sent away from something as simple as the clothes they wear or the gender they are attracted to, is a concept that should have gone out of style with the poodle skirt.
Back to Driftwood, this film is better than almost any studio film out there. The writing is outstanding, the performances are superb, the set isn't even a set, it was filmed at a closed down juvenile prison that was supposed to stay that way but didn't. Another sign of how important this film's message really is. Driftwood is so chilling because it rings true to how we all felt in our adolescence; lost, alone, trying to sort things out when everyone seemed to be against us. Driftwood isn't a big budget movie, it doesn't claim to be. It doesn't have dozens of big name stars, it doesn't need them. Driftwood has what few films today have, it has heart. I love this film and if you give it a chance I'm sure you will too.
Rest Stop (2006)
Don't waste your time stopping at this Rest Stop!
Rest Stop was on cable about 2 years ago but I didn't watch it. I figured any film that was "too shocking for theaters" would royally suck when edited for TV; little did I know it would just suck in general. This was the first film from Raw Feed, not to be confused with Eli Roth's production company Raw Nerve which makes far superior films. I could tell you who directed or starred in this film but I don't remember and don't care to look it up. The story line surrounds a girl and her boyfriend who run away from home to move to California, she has second thoughts, he doesn't, they stop at a rest stop, he disappears and she's stalked by a psycho. The story line has all of the makings of a classic and begins strong but quickly falters. It tries unsuccessfully to copy the style of High Tension, but in this case you are left with all questions and no answers. The story line and dialogue are weak, the characters are one dimensional, the only thing that's even worth noting in this film is the gore, which there isn't enough of, but what's there is good, stapling flesh and my favorite moment of the film the slow torturous biting off of a finger. Don't see this film, if you want gore watch Hostel or Saw, don't waste even the measly 85 minutes required to watch this. I read the sequel will be out soon and all I can say is why?
See This Film.
Spiral is the story of Mason, played by co-director, co-writer, producer Joel David Moore from Hatchet. Mason is a telemarketer, who likes to paint mysterious women, and consumes nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, apples and milk. (Just a warning, before viewing, you may want to be sure to have these items in the house in case you have a sudden craving. Or maybe that's just me?) Mason's life is a mess; he's messing up at work, having panic attacks that end in 3am phone calls, and freaky visions of some waitress. Mason is like a child in a man's body, awkward, scared; he needs a lot of help that he unfortunately isn't getting. Mason's only "friend" is Berkeley, played by producer Zachary Levi, who I hear has a show called Chuck but I've never seen it. Berkeley doesn't so much help Mason, as treat him like crap, then tries to justify it to himself and others by saying that he's being "honest". I think he's said it enough times that he actually believes it either that or he doesn't care, because he treats everyone the same way. One day, Mason meets a woman named Amber, played by Amber Tamblyn of Joan of Arcadia and more recently a great Hallmark movie, The Russell Girl. Amber is happy, bubbly, outspoken, and open book, she's the exact opposite of Mason and for a while, their relationship seems to work. Mason decides to paint her; he starts to seem happy, borderline normal. But, Amber knows there's something in his past, other women he's painted but won't talk about and the harder she pushes the more he pulls away.
After seeing co-director Adam Green's film, Hatchet, back in December I wasn't sure I was ready for the 180 into Spiral. I knew this film was going to be different, because for one thing, Spiral wasn't written by Green. This film is Joel David Moore's first as a writer/director but you have to wonder how the director of Hatchet is going to make this film work. I don't know how they did it but Green and Moore did an incredible job, I love this film. It reminds me of Psycho (the original not the piece of crap 1998 remake), the Sixth Sense, and maybe even a little 1408. Spiral already seems like a classic, with a great storyline, amazing jazz score (I'm not even into jazz), great camera work (even the hand-held at the end which makes you just the right amount of nauseous) and memorable performances. I'm not saying that all fans of Hatchet will like this film because I know many of them won't, Spiral isn't hardcore horror and it doesn't claim to be. Spiral is much more psychological, character and relationship driven. But if you like mystery and suspense, with a great twist ending, see this film, you won't regret it. My only wish for Spiral is that it could see a wider audience because the film and filmmakers deserve it.