Judge Daryl Loomis never minds when violence makes a move on him, but he demures when it starts to get graphic.
Let's get awesome.
The last days of high school should be a celebration of the good times you've had with your friends. For twin brothers Patrick and Carol Darling (Eric Lehning and Cody DeVos), however, it is a time of deep grief. The beautiful Wendy Hearst (Shellie Marie Shartzer) has disappeared and, along with her horde of friends and admirers, they just can't handle it. It gets worse for them, though, when little brother Beetle (Brett Miller) finds Wendy…not alive, but not quite dead either. They take zombie Wendy home to try and help her, and the three brothers make a pact to tell nobody. But as the summer wears on, relationships change and for love to spawn, some of Wendy's closest friends need to be told about her fate, but doing so may destroy brotherly love.
I guess the title Make-Out with Violence gave me certain expectations, not necessarily of something sexy, but maybe some sort of silly zombie comedy; they are popular these days, after all. I guess, if you look really hard, you can see attempts at comic moments, but they are strictly of the darkest variety. That's not a bad thing at all, but without a doubt, Make-Out with Violence is the most depressing movie featuring "make-out" in the title ever made. The resemblance to the more publicized, but not necessarily better, Dead Girl is obvious. The big difference is where that movie was a statement wrapped in a horror film, this is a sad rumination on death and grief using a single zombie to represent the characters' collective inability to deal with the death of their friend or the fact that, regardless of Wendy's existence, their lives are about to be irreparably changed.
I remember those days, the melancholy final hours I spent with my friends before boarding a train for college. They were some of the most beautiful moments I ever spent with those people—most of whom are completely gone from my life—but they were neither easy nor fun. We laughed, of course, as we smoked and played pool and stayed up all hours talking of the past, present, and future. But every laugh was tinged with nostalgia, in full knowledge that we really wouldn't see each other very much anymore, if ever. The Deagol Brothers, a film collective responsible for nearly every aspect of the film, capture these feelings quite nicely. It makes for a series of sad conversations, but I could relate to them, an aspect as important as quality filmmaking or strong performances, both of which are somewhat lacking here.
We were sent a screener to review Make-Out with Violence so it may not represent the final product, but what's here is perfectly decent. The anamorphic image looks as good as you can expect from a no budget indie. The stereo sound mix is as good as you can expect, but there's not much to it. Extras are plentiful for this kind of film. We start with an audio commentary with two members of the collective, who run down the usual stuff about indie filmmaking. A behind-the-scenes featurette runs half an hour and covers much of the same material, but features input from more of the cast and crew. Thirty minutes of deleted scenes, complete with introductions from various members of the production, give a little more comedy and some backstory, but nothing terribly important. The film was financed in part on a band that the production team formed and we get a few clips of live performances. Called the Non-Commissioned Officers, they sound quite a bit like Weezer, if that's your thing. Additional songs from the band How I Became the Bomb, which were originally intended for the film, are presented over clips from the film. A short feature about the person who designed the poster is a strange but interesting inclusion. A series of radio spots round us out.
Make-Out with Violence isn't a great film, but it's a good one. The performers are adequate and the film carries an overall feeling of sadness. Despite its zombie trappings, the undead have very little to do with the film, mostly serving as a symbol. That's rare; the Deagol Brothers could have easily made a more typical zombie comedy and likely have made more money doing it. But they took a different path and, while it's not entirely successful, that is admirable in itself.
Certainly not what I expected, but not guilty either.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Factory 25
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