"Bad Fever" is a touching character study of a young man so socially out of touch he is unaware that the stage act he is working up in an effort to become a stand-up comedian is woefully unfunny (Sample joke: Q: Who do you think I saw at the supermarket? A: The workers at the supermarket).
When not at his job at a tree-trimming service, Eddie (Kentucker Audley) wanders alone through rail yards in his hometown of Salt Lake City and tells his jokes into a tape recorder. At home, he tries fitfully to have a conversation with his sourpuss mom. He is the poster child for loneliness.
When he meets Irene (Eleonor Hendricks), a young drifter who hits him up for a pack of cigarettes the instant she meets him, he thinks he now has a girlfriend. But we can see Irene is a hustler who just wants to use him in her peculiar occupation of humiliating men on camera and selling the film to "a guy in Iowa."
How this all plays out is not what you might imagine as the film heads to a poignant climax in a motel room.
This first-time microbudget effort by filmmaker Dustin Guy Defa (Dee-FAY) screened at the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore over the weekend and Defa and some of his cast and crew were on hand for a discussion with the audience. The shy-seeming writer-director acknowledged there are autobiographic elements in the movie. The title, he said, resulted from a sickness he had while writing the script.
"Bad Fever," which so far has apparently only screened at festivals, deserves to find an audience.
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