A would be film maker takes a job off the internet and finds himself recording eight hours in the life of a very strange ,and possibly psychotic, individual in this first person video thriller.
First off I have to say that the video diary genre got off to a fine start with ‘Blair Witch Project” and then peaked with ‘Cloverfield ” before degenerating into the worst horror cycle since films about killer tomatoes. Usually first person flicks go right into the drink here at the lagoon but this effort delivers on the premise and represents the most creative use of the format in years.
The story follows Aaron, a late twenties guy on hard times, who opts to answer an internet ad when work as a camera man dries up. He is intrigued by the proposition which offers good pay for one day’s shooting . All they ask is that you be discrete. He pictures a lonely divorcee but gets stuck with a thirty something guy named Josef , who is chatty, energetic, and a bit too chummy . His first gesture is to hug Aaron saying that by the end of the day they will be close so why wait.
Josef freely admits that he is dying of inoperable cancer and then cheerfully talks about making a video diary for his son. An idea he cops to stealing from the 90’s weeper ‘My life.” Josef does bear a passing resemblance to that film’s star, Michael Keaton. Unfortunately he is more like the crazed character Keaton played in ‘Pacific Heights,” wherein he destroyed his landlord’s property as part of a real estate scam.
The first thing he wants to do is be filmed taking a bath while talking to is imaginary son. He creates a strange atmosphere as he talks about ‘Tubby Time” and makes faces at the camera. Pretty soon he is going off on a rant about dying and suddenly dives under the water making as if he wants to end it all. He bounces back up and apologizes for his bizarre sense of humor though Aaron remains passive behind the lens. This probably Aaron’s main problem but if he ran off at the first sign of weird we wouldn’t have a movie.
Next up is a trail hike where Josef searches for a heart shaped pool that( lore says) will restore health to true believers. They actually find it and we get a brief respite from the weirdness as they both dip their toes in the water. Actually this moment is kind of hinky too.
It isn’t long before Josef is telling a very raunchy story about his wife that leads to a dark memory of assaulting her. By the time he throws on a wolf mask and starts calling himself ‘Peach Fuzz” you will know it’s time to go and Aaron gets the same idea.
Sadly there is no getting rid of the man now. He starts mailing Aaron DVDs with bizarre confessions on them . They amount to “why did you break up with me” notes which are profoundly disturbing but don’t amount to an actual crime as far as the police are concerned. Josef is wise enough to not include the footage he shot of breaking into Aaron’s apartment and cutting off a hair sample while he slept.
It all leads to a stone cold ending that will freeze your blood and have you regretting anytime you made fun of someone dorky.
This totally works thanks to the team of Mark Duplass (Josef) and Patrick Brice(Aaron). Together they wrote the script through many hours of improvisation and totally developed the characters before constructing the film. Brice also directed and gives Duplass full range to get his creep on. He is an excellent performer who comes off as a blend of Jack Lemmon and Jack Nicholson. Great stuff!
Best Lines: “I had some inappropriate thoughts about what I want I to do to you.”
“It’s stubby time.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.