When It comes to the COVID pandemic, it is very easy to focus on the negative impacts it had on everyone's lives. As time moves on, we are hearing more stories of inspiration that came from adversity. One such story is covered in the new documentary Drive to Sing from Director Bryce Denney. As COVID cases increased at an alarming rate, social distancing and lock downs prevented people from gathering in groups. This made it impossible for choir group singers to do what they loved to do, sing with their group. Not only did this impact them artistically but mentally as well. Through the innovation of a number of individuals and the power of the internet, choir groups found a new way to do what they loved while staying safe, by singing in their cars.
Drive to Sing is a heart warming, inspiring story about parking lot choirs. It showed how one concept can spread like wildfire and evolve. Over the course of the film we see how the different choir groups had separately come up with a similar idea of group members singing in cars but did not have the know-how to do it efficiently. Thanks to the Denneys and others sharing demonstrations of their concept online along with detailed instructions, choirs across America were able to do something they loved safely. Some of the choirs took the ideas and tailored them for their own groups, building off the foundation of creativity laid out by the Denneys. For all the stories we see of a nation divided, it is wonderful to see an example of people coming together over their love of singing. Even better is the demonstration on how everyone was open to different suggestions to improve on the concept, without pride getting in the way of making a great idea even better.
There are interviews with directors and members from all different types of choirs, each one describing what they missed most about performing together for an audience. You can see the light in their eyes when they are able to do what they love thanks to the parking lot choir concept. A number of choir members from various groups share how being able to sing with their group helped them through the tough times and kept their spirits up. We also get to hear many examples of the wonderful voices that make up the choirs. When I heard these songs sung by these talented groups, I understood why they were so driven to get back together. The Denneys eventually take their setup on the road, offering to bring their setup to choir groups who may not have the equipment or the means to get the equipment. This allowed those groups to still practice and perform. Though it soon consumed all their free time, the Denneys never speak negatively about doing the work. You see the love they had to be able to help others, even if it meant traveling to 8 different places over the course of two weeks and still juggling the day job.
Drive To Sing shows how art and technology can make beautiful music together. Innovation through adversity thanks to a shared passion for music. While I feel it runs a little long, it is still an uplifting story that is a perfect watch for the holiday season.
We live in the most documented time in all of human history. Hundreds of thousands of pictures and videos are made every day documenting the ups, downs and in-between of people’s lives. Many times we take for granted or even forget the power those recorded events have. Well, there is a new documentary out that reminds us of the power of a picture. Bancoco is the story of Brad King and his journey to reconnect with the indigenous tribe that he stayed with twenty years ago. During his initial stay he photographed and video recorded many members of the tribe. Now he heads back to the Darien Gap of Panama in the hope of reconnecting with the tribe to share with them his collection of captured memories.
Bancoco is an amazingly heartfelt and moving documentary. Brad King keeps the story focused on the group of people he fell in love with. He shares a little of himself as well, showing how a childhood picture unlocked a memory between him and his friend that sparks an energetic conversation. Later on we see that same energy sparked in the members of the Embera tribe when King shows them pictures of themselves. Instilling the message that no matter what the culture, pictures have power.
Finding the Embera tribe was not an easy feat nor was there a guarantee he would find the actual village he was at two decades ago. We get to see how the journey takes King through security checkpoints, the possibility of being kidnaped, and other challenges, including almost losing all the photos at the beginning of his trip. Never once though do we see King give up or get frustrated during his search; a little scared but not frustrated. Once he does find the Embera Tribe, joy and love just fill the screen and the audience. I never got a feeling of exploitation or negativity during the entire run time. Bancoco is one of the most positive documentaries I have seen in a while.
One of the most touching things about Bancoco is how the villagers react to seeing pictures of themselves from twenty years ago, with most having never seen a picture of themselves until King arrived. A couple of people were embarrassed, some you could tell were trying to search for the moment in their memory, but all of them had a genuine smile on their faces. There is a bittersweet story that unfolds about a daughter of one family that was unexpected. King handles telling this story with care and delicacy. It was a moment that also reinforced the theme of Bancoco. Brad King’s motivation always felt very genuine with nothing played up for the camera, which I very much appreciated and apparently so did the tribe. In a show of appreciation, the Embera people made King a member of the tribe and gave him a name, Bancoco. The meaning of the name is hilarious and sincere.
Bancoco made my eyes misty more than a few times. The feeling of nostalgia hit at the heart and it made me want to look at the many old pictures and videos of my family and friends. In today’s world, we take for granted the pictures we take. This documentary helped me rediscover an appreciation for what a single image can do. If you are feeling down and need a pick-me-up, I suggest you check out Bancoco, not only will it get you to think, but also to reflect. Maybe in twenty years Brad King will make another documentary of him watching his original documentary and see what memories it unlocks for him.
Just in time for horror season comes a new indie psychological horror film from a mother-daughter duo. Uncanny marks the directorial debut of Clara Gabrielle, who co-wrote the film with her mother Marie Laurin. Laurin plays an art therapist named ZouZou who, after experiencing a serious traumatic event, stops practicing as a therapist and chooses to focus on an art career. She moves into a new house with the hope that the change will not only help her creativity but also with handling the trauma that she faced. Little does she know that the house she has moved into has a dark secret. The more she tries to avoid dealing with her grief, the more she gets pulled into that secret. Will she be able to come to terms and move on before her inner turmoil and the house consume her?
On the surface, Uncanny may seem like just a story of a cursed house preying on an emotionally vulnerable woman but underneath the surface there is a lot to unpack. Gabriellle weaves a tale about grief, trauma, beauty ideals, and mental health into fantastical paranormal tapestry. We get glimpses of some of the past residents of the house; each one showing a different type of emotional, social, and mental struggle. Then we see how the spirit in the house helps push them over the edge. It represents either the crutch or the catalyst for its target to “give in” rather than get out. In ZouZou’s case, the crutch is her friendship with a little girl who is part of the house, which helps her avoid having to deal with the traumatic event she suffered. This avoidance strains her attempt to have a relationship, art career, or even get to know her menagerie of neighbors. I never got the feeling that the motivation of the house was malevolent but rather more like a child who wants its friends to stay awhile.
The emotional heart of the film is Marie Laurin. Her performance as ZouZou is moving and heartbreaking. She does an expert job of portraying a person who is unraveling not just because of the house’s influences but also in her refusal to seek help. She seems to ignore her own inner strength. We get to see that strength when she has to deal with a neighbor who continues to randomly show up in her house. We can see her experiences as a therapist immediately kick in and rather than be upset or scared, she remains calm when confronting the young man. The audience sees her ability to deal with others who have mental issues, while struggling to deal with her own.
There is no gore or excessive use of jump scares in Uncanny. Instead, the horror is in the downward spiral of its main character. Through excellent editing and use of lighting, there is always a feeling of uneasiness. As you near the climax of the film, the creepiness factor does increase quite a bit, culminating in a particularly disturbing dinner scene that I loved. Makeup effects, when used, are very effective and look great.
If you are looking for a scare-a-minute type of horror film, Uncanny is not going to be for you. This is multi-layered slow-burn psychological horror that will give many a lot to talk about after the credits start to roll. It is my favorite type of horror film, one that uses the genre to explore real-world issues while not being heavy handed or holding your hand to explain everything. If you are looking for horror that makes you think, this is definitely one to see.
First it was fairy tale horror, then the drug-fueled animal horror and now it appears the next trend in horror will be…nursery rhymes? Director Jason Arber and Uncork’d Entertainment bring us Mary Had a Little Lamb, the first of two nursery rhyme horror films to be released this month. In Mary Had a Little Lamb, Carla, the host of a cold case crime radio show, is faced with possible cancellation due to dwindling numbers. In a desperate attempt to keep her job and the jobs of those who work for her, she sets out with her team to investigate a series of disappearances. The trail leads them to a remote location in the woods where they discover the home of Mary, an elderly woman who lives with her son. Thinking they may have a story that is bigger than the disappearances, Carla decides the team should stay the night. Little do they know that Mary’s “Lamb” is not what they think and soon they find themselves trying to escape the real-life nightmare they have stumbled into.
Mary Had a Little Lamb, is as if A24’s Lamb and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a child. The film has a solid tension-filled opening sequence that lets you know what kind of ride you’re on. Arbor delivers on the creepiness, and the concept puts a nice little twist on your standard backwoods slasher story. It does follow many of the same tropes and it wears its Texas Chainsaw Massacre influences on its sleeve, especially in a particular dinner scene late and at the ending. I didn’t mind these homages because they did not feel forced. Once the group enters Mary’s house, there is a consistently maintained creepy atmosphere. Add to it the excellent lighting and camera work and Mary’s house is a legit scary horror setting.
May Kelly puts in a solid performance as Carla. You feel her desperation and the unfair position she has been put in. Kelly helps you feel some sympathy, along with frustration with the character due to some rash decisions. Thanks to Kelly’s acting, you see her energy change from desperation to obsession with Mary‘s story. Kelly is no stranger to being in movies with an animal theme. She was in Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey recently as well as other monster films. This experience helped her sell the terror she faces at the hands of Mary’s “Lamb”. The rest of the cast do well, though most are your standard slasher fodder characters. The stand out performance for me was Christine Ann Nyland. Nyland’s Mary is a sweetly sinister individual who will make your skin crawl while enjoying her delicious tea. There is a reason behind her madness that, while cliche, does bring another layer to what could have been a one note character. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where it was just Carla and Mary. Kelly and Nyland brought real tension to their scenes together.
One of the things that could use improvement was the editing. It could have been tighter to have less confusion and distraction within some of the scenes, and to improve continuity perception. The audio could have also been better. Normally for indie films the audio is too quiet but in this case, the dialog in particular was too prominent and you could tell it was re-recorded in a studio. The overall look of the film is sharp. It does not show its budget and visually it was well done. Especially in the production design of the house, where the attic almost resembles a barn aesthetic.
Mary Had a Little Lamb was far better than expected. At its core it is a basic backwoods slasher film but given the unusual slasher and the character of Mary, it helps it stand out a bit more than most gimmicky horror. I think if you are looking for something unusual to put on your 31 Days of Horror list, you will want to check it out. Mary Had a Little Lamb hits VOD October 3rd.
One of the reasons I love independent cinema is because it never ceases to surprise me. One such surprise is in the form of a new science fiction movie called Alien Planet. Director and writer Alan Maxson tells us a tale of Loch and Brocheet. Their species have been at war with each other for a lifetime. Loch’s race was exiled to a remote, hostile planet. Once a year they must use a drop of mysterious purple liquid to rejuvenate the limited resources the planet provides for them to survive. Brocheet’s species, having exhausted their planet’s resources after conquering it, send Brocheet and his dog-like companion Giree to steal the purple liquid to save their species. Soon Loch and Brocheet find themselves in a dire situation where they have to put their differences aside to survive.
Alien Planet is an impressive throw back to the 80s sci-fi films like Enemy Mine. It has a great blending of sci-fi action and social commentary. The themes of prejudice, abuse of global resources, and doing what is right vs what you are ordered to do runs throughout the film. The extensive use of practical effects was a pleasant surprise. The prosthetics they used on the actors were highly detailed and held up during the action scenes; no seams showing here. They also were able to work within their budget and create some interesting starship interiors. The characters felt like they were on a ship and not just in a closet with random LED lights. The landscape of the planet is sparse, but there were some wonderful practical living planet creatures that made me smile every time I saw them. They reminded me of the creature that tried to eat Flash in Flash Gordon from 1980. Brocheet has a companion creature named Giree, who is also a practical effect. The design of the creature was similar to the caterpillar in House 2 but with the attitude of a gremlin. The puppeteering was done well, and the interaction by the other characters helped to sell the idea Giree was real.
The performances by the Alexandra Bokova, who plays Lock, and Hunter Smith, who plays Brocheet, really help elevate Alien Planet above many indie science fiction films. It could not have been easy to emote through all of the make-up and foam rubber yet they were able to do so. Bokova brings in a fiery performance, making the audience feel the hurt and frustration Lock and her people have suffered for so many years. Smith’s Brocheet is a soldier just trying to do his job. He seems to be a bit more sympathetic to Lock than vice versa. It is an interesting dynamic between the two. Thanks to the performances of both, you buy into the gauntlet of emotions they are feeling.
One of the few issues was when the green screen and CGI was used, it really stood out noticeably against the practical effects. Also, while I know we are dealing with alien species, our two main characters seem to be able to take an excessive amount of physical injury. I understand the filmmakers wanted to have the attacks by the creature feel and look brutal, but it still had me asking “How are they still alive?” a few times. I also understand that the characters were driven by their goal, but it felt a bit much. While much of the story plays out as expected, the ending was a surprise and is sure to get a reaction from the audience.
Alien Planet is not trying to be different. It follows many of the standard sci-fi tropes but it does them well. If you are a fan of independent science fiction movies and or good practical effects then you will want to put it on your watch list. Alien Planet is out now on VOD.
One of the things I have learned covering independent films is that you do not need a big budget to make something entertaining. Passion, creativity and a group of talented individuals is sometimes all it takes. A prime example of this is Sujewa Ekanayake’s Cosmic Disco Detective Rene and the Mystery of Immortal Time Travelers, a sequel to his wonderful The Secret Society for Slow Romance.
In Cosmic Disco Detective Rene, we catch up with the couple from the first film, Rene and Allyson. Rene is a detective who tunes into the music of the cosmos to help him solve his investigations. You can guess what that music sounds like from the title. Allyson realizes the freedoms she now has as a filmmaker and has a hard time deciding which project she should work on first, while helping Rene with his secret plan to make the world a better place for all. Rene is soon hired by Ithihasaya to investigate the possible presence of Immortal Time Travelers. He needs to determine if they are messing with our time line and if they pose a threat to the human race. And that is just for starters.
This is a delightfully fun and well written indie comedy that was as unpredictable as the first film. It is minimalistic filmmaking at its finest. Ekanayake gives us characters who are highly amusing thanks to the entire cast’s performance. Rene is played by Ekanayake with subtle charm and improved delivery from the first film. It always seemed like Rene was amused, regardless of the situation, thanks to the corner of his lips that curled into a subtle smile. The segments with Rene recording his audio notes are particularly funny because of the subjects he talks about. Even the scenes where it was just two people trading lines of dialog were charming. Alia Lorae returns as Allyson, my favorite character from the first movie as well as in this one. Many of her scenes reminded me of a poet at open mic night in a beatnik cafe. You learn alot about her while she records her own notes about which project she should work on, her relationship with Rene, and the state of things in general. Genoveva Rossi plays the role of Ithihasaya. You can tell she is having a lot of fun with the character. There is also a character named Chitrapati, a theater owner and film critic, who interviews Rene. This was a character I wanted to get to know more about thanks to the performance of Natalie Osborne.
Like the first film, the city of New York is also a character. There are a variety of shots of random locations that are interspersed between the scenes of dialog. Some are beautiful, static shots while others are more abstract, quick takes. Some shots are intentionally out of focus or unsteady. All help convey the energy New York City is known for while also serving as a unique creative expression of the director’s love for the town. He also plays with time, with some scenes being played in reverse. This is sometimes very evident and sometimes subtle. It is a simple yet effective way to sell the idea that there may be time travelers somewhere messing with things. The music adds to the energy and helps solidify the film’s identity. Above all else the vibe of the story is always upbeat. We do not see our happy couple have a fight or people’s lives being threatened. It is positively charming.
Cosmic Disco Detective Rene and the Mystery of Immortal Time Travelers is not going to be for everyone. It is an artsy film in all aspects, but this is not a negative. You can feel the honesty in the story and there are some truly laugh out loud moments, if you get what Sujewa is laying down. While it may leave mainstream audiences scratching their heads, for those seeking something entertaining, up beat and different, this one's for you, especially if you enjoyed the first film. Whoever said there is no creativity left in cinema isn’t looking in the right places.
When someone is going to hypnotherapy, there is a certain level of trust placed in the therapist. Now what if that therapist is possessed by a demonic force looking to take advantage of the situation? This is just one of the ideas explored in “Evil Lurks”, a new indie horror film from director Aaron Hawkins and Chris Shern.
Kimberly suffered a great loss in her life and has been overcome with grief ever since. She seeks the help of a hypnotherapist named Harold. Harold is quickly drawn to her, and he suggests a private therapy session, which she agrees to. Little does she know that her therapist is possessed by a malevolent force known as the “Ssh Man” who appears every 15 years on the blood moon. After being viciously sexually assaulted, Kimberly is sent to the psychiatric hospital where she gives birth to a daughter, Erica. Fifteen years after her birth, the Ssh Man is once again roaming the earth, this time looking for his offspring. Kimberly, knowing that her daughter is in danger, gathers all of her strength to track down Erica and protect her before the “Ssh Man” discovers Erica’s location.
What “Evil Lurks” may lack in budget it makes up for in spirit, creativity and talent. Hawkins and Shern tell a story that covers the subject of grief, loss, foster parenting, and trust. The idea of the “Ssh Man” is chilling and executed well. I loved the concept, and the portrayal was legitimately scary thanks to the performance of Chris Shern. Harold flips between charismatic hypnotist to possessed madman like a light switch. He sells the evil, elevating some of the more extreme scenes. Amanda Winston’s Kimberly is a very sympathetic character. Winston makes you feel her frustration and sadness as she deals with all of the trauma she has experienced. You get the feeling there is something more than just the horrors she’s faced at the hands of the “Ssh Man”. Kimberly’s daughter, Erica, is played by Savannah Mae. I thought she did great as a young woman caught up in something so dark. There was a good mother-daughter chemistry between her and Winston.
It is always interesting to see how a filmmaker will handle extreme abuse scenes. Some show everything, some keep things more to the imagination with quick cuts and obscure camera angles. Hawkins and Shern do a little bit of both. The camera does not shy away from the abuse, giving weight to what is happening, but it does not feel exploitative. Props to both Winston and Shern for how they handled difficult scenes.
“Evil Lurks” feels overambitious when it comes to the visual effects. There are a number of scenes where Kimberly is in a nightmare world. These scenes are where the smaller budget is most evident. The compositing of the green screen is apparent in some spots but Winston still does an excellent job in selling the idea that she is in an otherworldly place. I loved what they were going for and I wish they would have had a bigger budget to pull these sections off better. The dialog audio is also muddled in a few scenes.
The subject of grief, separation, and loss have been a popular subject in horror the last couple years. Some have handled these subjects well while others have stumbled. Evil Lurks is in the middle of this group. While some of the production elements could have been better, it is the direction and performances that make it a worthwhile watch.
There is a new coming-of-age movie out that has the spirit of a classic fairytale but with modern sensibilities. W tells the story of Violet, a very inquisitive and naive girl who believes that she is a witch. Her family life is not the greatest. Her sister Savannah aspires to be a model and is overly concerned about her body image. Violet’s mom Chloe never smiles like she used to, and Violet figures it may be because her dad Adam spends all the time on the internet. While her sister auditions to be a model for a fashion icon named Yana, Violet wanders into a nearby forest and comes across a witch named Hazel. Violet bonds with Hazel through their mutual connection to nature and magic. Soon Violet is on a journey that will change her and her family forever.
Wonderwell is a fanciful female-led story that is sure to spark the imagination of many young people. It will also spark conversations about puberty, self-image, family dynamics, social behaviors and more. Director Vlad Marsavin weaves these themes into the tapestry of a fantasy world that includes floating gold faces, extra large venus fly traps, and flowers that seem to be able to move. All the elements looked fantastic thanks to the special effects which helps immerse you into Violet’s world. Whether you are in the green gardens of the Paradiso or the coldly modern Inferno, it all looks great thanks to Cinematographer Kenji Katori. The gorgeous score by William Ross is part John Willams and part Hans Zimmer that not only enhances the emotions of each scene but manages to shine on its own.
The cast also shines. Carrie Fisher puts in a solid, heartwarming performance that reminds us how much we miss her talent. Her Witch Hazel had the perfect balance of kindness, sympathy and strength. Rita Ora plays Yana, the Yin to Hazel’s Yang. They only get one major scene together but it was my favorite scene; powerful and tension-filled. Yana is a dark, cold character who has a commanding presence everytime she is on screen. Ora plays her perfectly. She is definitely a villain you will love to hate. Young newcomer Kira Mileward holds her own with the veterans. While her line delivery was rough at times, her charisma and energy helped make up for it. She had great chemistry with the other performers, particularly with Carrie Fisher and Nell Tiger Free who plays Savannah. Free makes a perfect jump from a rebellious teen to someone questioning their choices. She uses a lot of facial expressions effectively in her performance to convey this transition. You can see she is torn between being a cold-hearted model and a loving sister.
There is an interesting parallel between the Hazel and Yana relationship and Violet and Savannah relationship. It is as if we are seeing how Hazel and Yana started out through the younger characters. It is not just reflected in how the characters are written, but also in their costuming. Costume Designer Nicoletta Ercole designs were both visually striking and helped enhance the personality of the characters. Violet and Hazel wore soft, warm, earth toned clothing while Yana’s clothing was far colder, abstract and made up of mostly black. You could tell Ercole had a lot of fun designing Yana’s clothing line. I could see any one of these designs on the runway in real life.
The only issue I had with the film was with the ending. I could have used a bit more explanation on how the magic worked. Specifically, in the way things are resolved. I understand that the main focus is Violet dealing with the changes that occur with getting older, so some aspects of the story do not get as much attention. Still, I would have liked a little more in the rules of the world and why the resolution worked the way it did. I don’t need everything spelled out but the ending did leave me with a few questions.
Wonderwell is a magical, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking family film. It does not shy away from presenting some heavy topics like infidelity and the sexualization of young women but it doesn’t get too far into the weeds on these topics. The ninety-six minute run time breezes by and the overall production value makes it worth a watch. 4 out of 5 stubs.
Ever since I became a parent, I learned that you should never underestimate the perspective of a child. Their view of the world and how things, like relationships, are supposed to work is pure. This idea, along with others, are front and center in the short film Who’s Watching Who? written and directed by Chris Levine. We meet Trevor, a rather precocious ten-year old who is being watched by his Uncle Nick. Nick has been down and out due to a major event in his life. Over the course of the weekend, Nick finds it a challenge to reign in his young nephew. During the same weekend, Trevor helps Nick gain a more hopeful perspective on life.
Who’s Watching Who? Is a touching, funny, and grounded story with a lot of heart. Chris Levine is also in front of the camera as Uncle Nick. I loved his approach to Nick, this guy who really has not been around kids much and just feels like he is in over his head. There is a palpable underlying sadness that seems to fade as he spends more time with Trevor. Alex Lizzul’s Trevor is very charismatic and just adorable. His interactions with Nick came across as a genuine nephew/uncle relationship. If you ever sat down with someone who is Trevor’s age, you know they have opinions and are willing to share them. The two really play off each other well which is important for a character driven story like this.
While not trying to break any new ground, Who’s Watching Who? strengthens the idea that kids know more than we think they do and can help us through the tough times as an adult. I loved the heart and spirit of this short film and think it is worth catching if it is playing at a festival near you.
Welcome to another SMP Review!
2020 was an eventful, history making year. The pandemic was swiftly ramping up, society was trying to adapt to a “new normal” and the Black Lives Matter movement began. It makes a perfect backdrop for Bernard Rose’s Traveling Light. In Traveling Light, Caddy is a man who is looking for his missing son while working as an Uber and Delivery Driver. His son has been missing for a couple of years, but Caddy has not given up hope. Over the course of the day of May 30th, 2020, Caddy meets a number of characters, including Harry. Harry is a cult leader who decides to invite some of his flock to a house on Mullholland Drive to take part in a rather bizarre, existential ceremony. Meanwhile, the city of L.A. is a powder keg of building tension due to the murder of George Floyd. As Caddy continues to ferry more people to Harry’s house, that powder keg is ignited along with Harry’s secret plan for his followers, while Caddy just wants to earn some money and find his son.
Traveling Light is character driven biting satire that is hilarious, thought provoking, and subtly terrifying. The social commentary represented by the various characters Caddy meets pulls no punches. Whether it is a woman who refuses to keep her mask on while in the car with Caddy or the guy who seems good on the surface but is actually a creeper, or the privileged individuals of Harry’s flock. All are different aspects of our culture which reared their head during the rise of the pandemic and civil protests. The tone to the commentary is similar to the one in Rose’s Candyman, but with a more subtle, gradual build of dread. Traveling Light uses a Cinéma vérité style of storytelling, giving it a documentary feel. This grounded the film further and added depth to all of the characters by making them feel like real people.
Tony Todd is wonderful as Caddy. He gives you a very sympathetic, everyday man who is just trying to do his job while also fighting to stay positive in the search for his son and in spite of the state of society. You feel his frustration when dealing with the people he is transporting as well as his love for his son. Harry, played by Danny Houston, is dark, slightly creepy but also charismatic. I love what Houston does with this character. He gives Harry just enough honesty that you will almost buy what he is selling but at the same time there is something just below the surface that makes you uneasy. The uneasiness grows as things escalate at Harry’s gathering and it is thanks to Houston’s performance. Stephen Dorff’s Todd is a layered character; someone who didn’t believe in the whole meditation and existentialism schtick that Harry presented in the beginning, but that changes for him to the surprise of his, played by Olivia d’Abo. He does half-heartedly try to question some of Harry’s actions but never gets his answers.
This is considered a drama but the use of real world news clips in the background, the various forms of paranoia the characters feel, and even the color palette all give the story a more horror-like atmosphere. The feeling of dread never goes away even when chuckling at a drunk Todd trying to order food. The audience will definitely connect with the characters because ninety percent of the conversations and situations portrayed were actual conversations and situations many faced in 2020, providing yet another layer to an already stacked story.
Traveling Light is not those looking for Tarintino-esque conversations or fast paced action. If you enjoy a day-in-the-life type story that has satire mixed with steadily paced thought provoking scenes with horror undertones, then you will want to seek this out. I found myself immediately engrossed in it and was delightfully surprised by the ending. 5 stubs.
I have been reviewing films since high school. I love discussing films with those who share my passion for them. I also do video reviews on YouTube and on my podcast.