OCTOBER 21, 2008
Five dollars to the first person who can tell me who Bryan Loves You writer/director/star Seth Landau sounds like. He sounds EXACTLY LIKE someone famous but I can’t place it, and it drove me insane throughout the movie and the commentary. I’m circling around Eli Roth and Chris Parnell combined into one voice, or maybe Eric Bogosian. I don’t think those are correct though.
That five bucks will come from my trading in the DVD at Second Spin, because I cannot imagine a point in time when I would want to sit through this inept mess again. I’ve certainly seen worse movies, but I get more angry when a great concept (“found footage” about a guy investigating a creepy Arizona cult) is botched by such lazy and simply incorrect filmmaking.
First of all, it’s found footage, but most of it is actually surveillance footage from fixed angles in the corners of the room (or, when necessary, fixed angles that are conveniently fixed on objects of interest). It seems that every room in this movie has like 5 or 6 “hidden” cameras in it. This is annoying enough (why would someone take the time to edit together all of this footage? If they were filming everything 24/7 from multiple angles, there would be like 5 or 6 minutes of footage to use for every 1 minute of time), but the cult says near the beginning that filming is not allowed! So why do they film everything and cover so many angles in the process?!?!? If scenes went by from one fixed angle, I could almost buy it (it would make it a bit more unnerving at any rate), but the way its presented is completely counterproductive to the feel Landau was going for. People bitch about Diary of the Dead... at least the camera’s inclusion made contextual sense in that.
Worse than the camera trouble is the sound. There’s a gimmick that they don’t want to say the name of the town, anyone’s last name, their street, etc... and that’s fine. But instead of beeping the audio, like any normal person would, they just cut the audio out entirely. So during proper noun heavy dialogue exchanges, it sounds like your receiver is broken. Throughout the movie I thought there was something wrong with my DVD, because it’s such an intrusive and dumb way to present the “protect the identities” idea.
And once again, we have a horror movie with big names on the cover for people who aren’t in more than a scene each. Tiffany Shepis (yay!) is the only one who seems like her part was part of the actual film, and not some random nonsense filmed later to have the names attached. Top billed is George Wendt (2nd Wendt film this week!), and his scene is actually pretty cool, but again, feels completely disconnected from the rest of the film. If you were to remove it, there would be absolutely no change in the narrative at all. We also get Tony Todd bookending the film as a guy who warns you that the footage may make you sick or too scared, and Daniel Roebuck pops up as an expert on “Bryan”, a scene which is rather useless in the long run since Landau never bothers to really explore/explain the cult. A great extra feature would have been an essay or short video about the real cult, but all they offer is a commentary.
The commentary is slightly more entertaining than the film, since there’s like 50 people in the room and thus there’s always something to listen to. Landau acts a bit like Howard Stern, and is pretty lively (a stark contrast from his performance in the film, which is dull and lacks even the slightest bit of charisma), so that’s good. Plus he reveals himself to be a big fan of Fletch, so he endured himself to me. Towards the end, he tries (unsuccessfully) to further the idea that the cult is real and they are after him, and it’s a failed experiment, but I love the fact that they went there at all. On that note though – his “no, this is real!” approach to trying to promote this movie makes the lack of any other extras even more puzzling. Believers was a failed movie about a cult too, but at least the extras delivered the "this is real" chills.
On top of it all, I'm really just bummed that a movie with my namesake, albeit spelled wrong, lacks the chills. The cover art is cool (based on the creepy masks that pop up on occasion in the film), and I was actually in the mood for a found footage film, so I really thought I would dig this one, even if it didn't share the plot I had in mind when I read the title (which was a giant ripoff of Valentine, only it was a dude named Brian, or, dammit, Bryan). Attention all screenwriters - if you make a slasher movie and name the killer Brian, I can almost guarantee a positive review.
Speaking of: on the IMDb, all of the "external reviews" are positive (some are even repeated), but all the major horror sites like Fango, DreadCentral, and now (in a tangential way) Bloody Disgusting panned it. Also, I got a snarky comment about my "full review soon!" post within a couple hours of its posting, which suggests that maybe there IS a cult after all, only it's a cult that is trying to get this movie some positive attention. I don't doubt that the movie has its fans, and I'm glad some people dig it, but that kind of behavior (which I also dealt with on Poughkeepsie Tapes, but at least I liked that one) annoys me. To "coca-cola" and whoever else enjoyed this movie, feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section - that's the intent of the site after all.
What say you?