Friday, January 4, 2008


Amateur hour befalls us again with GREENE ROAD, a 2007 short film from writer/director Brandon Blair. Like most backyard movies, it's too slight to be truly satisfying to anyone outside the filmmaker's immediate family.

In a scenario that makes the simplistic morality tales of EC comics look like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, a pair of teenagers walking down Greene Road (I'm presuming, since Blair doesn't bother to evoke or explain his title, though I suppose ONE-NOTE ZOMBIE FLICK I MADE WITH MY FRIENDS would've been too cumbersome) taunt a grass-cutting nerd played by Blair in an unconvincing turn; not that I don't buy him as a nerd, it's just that he plays him in such a manner I thought he was already a zombie. That doesn't happen until later, when a freak lawnmower accident enrages one of the teens and leads to Blair's murder (hope I didn't make that sound interesting, on either a storytelling or visual level, since it's not). The kids dump Blair in a shallow grave, who comes back for revenge in the most unimaginative manner possible.

For the first minute into the movie, Blair tricked me into believing he might've possessed a little skill. His opening shot suggests a low-tech but effective approach then quickly reveals the sloppy camerawork and abysmal sound quality. The latter is moot, since Blair decides to drown the soundtrack in unauthorized Rob Zombie songs--tossing in the GATES OF HELL score to break up the monotony--which hurts the movie's atmosphere a lot more than the uneven direction. When Blair rises from the dead to exact his vengeance things get a little more interesting--he at least shows a good sense of lighting to establish mood--but a feeling been-there, done-that rests over the whole thing.

A couple of pointers that I would like to throw out: one, killing a child to be "disturbing" only works if you've earned it, otherwise it's cheap shock tactics. And two, slowed-down dialogue during scare scenes, or any scenes for that matter, never ever works. Never. Ever.

Better luck next time, Brandon.

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