Sunday, October 12, 2008


This weird little flick, made by director Rusty Nails in 2005, will definitely appeal to offbeat sensibilities, even if the overall film is a little weak. On the surface it appears to be a send-up of vintage science fiction flicks, and is to a degree, but ACNE is rooted deeper in the underground art scene than with the likes of Roger Corman.

Two siblings--Franny and Zooey, played by Tracey Hayes and Nails, respectively--drink contaminated water and find themselves as zit-headed "zombies." (Though the zombie angle is aggravatingly inconsistent; they're not the living dead, nor are they in a trance-like state, or anything else commonly known as zombies, yet Nails evokes undead films often, using bleak exteriors that could've been outtakes from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.) Oozing pus from their pustule-crowned heads, the two teenagers spread the infection, causing the local youth population to sprout zit-heads and crave chocolate.

ACNE will be best appreciated by fans of transgressive or surreal cinema. Nails does a pretty good job replicating the '50s sci-fi look, but his black-and-white cinematography bears greater influence from Luis Bunuel or early Lynch. A frequently compelling and well-conceived piece, this film works best as a nontraditional visual fabric. (Nails's inventiveness really shines in a great bit involving a fire-and-brimstone preacher at his pulpit that features no real dialogue.) It's when it tries to approach a standard narrative that ACNE falters, as Nails gives his story too many talkative digressions and silly subplots, with humor that falls flat.

Like most experimental films, ACNE isn't for everyone, but fans of arthouse cinema and the open-minded may find the experience rewarding. Nails is a breath of anarchic air, the perfect antidote to mainstream stagnation.

No comments: