The last time Appellate Judge Tom Becker went Over the Edge, Matt Dillon was with him.
Our review of Over the Edge (1979), published October 14th, 2005, is also available.
"Stone cold. No pulse. He's not breathing. Pupils don't contract. He's definitely dead."
Jason (Danny Bedford) is experiencing serious malaise. He hasn't been out of his London flat in weeks, and his constant calling in to his work place is endangering a job.
When his DVD player breaks, he calls Richard (Sean Hart), a co-worker—the IT guy—to come fix it. Jason and Richard are attracted to each other, and the gentle techie tries to overlook Jason's weirdness.
However, there's something he really can't overlook: a dead body in the next room. It seems Jason had a guy over—doesn't know his name—and when he woke up, his new friend…well, didn't.
There's also a serial killer running loose, offing guys much like this. Now, Jason—who's also experiencing blackouts—is wondering if he might not be doing a little more nighttime carousing than he remembers.
The description above makes Over the Edge sound a lot more involving and ambitious than it actually is. Basically an extended sketch dragged out to feature length—well, short (74 minutes) feature length—the film is occasionally funny but ultimately bogged down by director/writer/etc. Webster Forrest's attempts to make it something more than just a low-key, macabre comedy.
Over the Edge works best when it mines humor from dead-pan absurdity—a discussion about the films of Steven Seagal, or the guys' decision to autopsy the body themselves. When Richard asks how they can do that, Jason replies that he had a year of medical school. It's funny because it's so ridiculous, as is the sequence that follows, with the men wearing shower curtains and kitchen gloves inspecting the corpse.
Unfortunately, these moments are pretty well confined to first half hour. Shortly after, we are confronted with one of the film's biggest defects: it tries to take itself seriously. Rather than being an amusing, Cosmo Kramer-like contrivance, Jason's aborted med school experience becomes a major plot point. It seems that even though he's drawn rather cartoonishly, we're actually supposed to relate to Jason and his ill-defined plight, with the med school business being a lost—and happy endingly resolvable—dream. The love story, which brings out the eccentricities of the leads and works in a quirky way, is actually supposed to be taken seriously.
Forrest also introduces other characters. The worst of these is a crazy old lady neighbor. She's portrayed by Fenella Fielding, a British actress with a pretty impressive stage and film pedigree (Carry On Screaming!, The Old Dark House). It's a miserably written role, deliberately "wacky" and "out there," and the talented Fielding camps it up to poor effect, illuminating the deficiencies with her broad performance. Later, a policeman arrives and for no apparent reason, has a 10-minute conversation about house hunting. Even at 74 minutes, the film ends up feeling like an awfully long slog.
It's a shame Forrest didn't just stick with Bedford and Hart and make this a half hour short. Both actors give the film a measure of charm, and they play off each other nicely, making the most of Forrest's sometimes amusingly grim script.
The "film" is actually video, and looks like it, with very low production values and some dreadful lighting. The transfer is fine for what it is. Audio is a Dolby stereo track, but the source is none too great; subtitles would have been very helpful. For supplements, we get deleted scenes with introductions from the director and a commentary. What these make obvious is that Forrest's opinion of his work is a lot higher than it should be; he frequently comes off as pretentious, particularly when explaining things like why some scenes switch back and forth between color and black and white (to reflect changing mood). I appreciate the challenges of low-budget filmmaking and having pride in one's work, but after listening to Forrest talk about the film, I actually found myself liking the whole thing less.
The low tech isn't the only reason this thing screams "high school A/V project." Charismatic leads and an occasional flair for absurd humor can't save Webster Forrest's film from Webster Forrest.
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