Fantasia Fest Review: DOOMSDAYS Finds Its Heart Along The Way
Doomsdays stars off aggressively obnoxious and somehow manages to end up surprisingly touching. Getting from one end to the other isn't exactly easy, but the journey ultimately pays off.
The plot concerns two guys who walk around breaking into empty affluent houses in the Catskills. They steal food, booze, and anything else that catches their eye, break whatever they feel like, and then leave before the owners come home. Or usually right after the owners come home. Their entire existence is based around being dicks. They excuse this behavior by convincing themselves that the world is ending due to diminishing resources, primarily oil. Instead of confronting this dark philosophy with compassion, they prefer to riot way ahead of schedule.
One guy, Dirty Fred (played by Justin Rice) is an endlessly sardonic smart-ass whose every line condescends. Dressed and bearded like a hipster college professor awaiting tenure, Dirty Frank is sort of the brains of the outfit. He is also a very horny alcoholic and the last guy in the world with whom you'd want to have a conversation.
Traveling with him is the much quieter Bruho (played by Leo Fitzpatrick, who you might recognize as Telly from Kids and/or Johnny Weeks from The Wire). Where Dirty Fred is just a mouthy jerk, Bruho is perpetually angry and on the verge of violent outbursts.
For quite a while, we watch these two characters jump from one empty house to another, breaking shit and disregarding the feelings of others to such an extent that you begin dreading the whole hour of movie you have left.
But then things gradually begin to get better. The duo find themselves a third member with the young but eager and enthusiastic Jaidon (played by Brian Charles Johnson), a much needed positive force in the film. Suddenly faced with a newcomer, we finally get to hear explanations for how these guys live and why they have chosen this path, and it goes a long way toward humanizing them.
Once they pick up their fourth member, the beautiful and kind Reyna (played by Laura Campbell) the movie begins firing on all cylinders. All three characters play off Reyna in ways that reveal who they really are underneath (or in Dirty Fred's case, confirm a stunning lack of hidden worth). What started out as a film about finding humor in aimless destruction transforms into a film about family.
Some movies, you don't really know if you liked until they are completely finished. Doomsdays is one of those films. The last couple minutes are particularly perfect and bring the whole film together in a conclusion that both touches and satisfies. Until then, you're not really sure what game Doomsdays wants to play. First time writer and director Eddie Mullins proves that he knows what he's doing, but he does force you to give him the benefit of the doubt a lot longer than expected. If you can get past the abrasive first half hour, you'll find a film with a lot more heart than initially anticipated.
DOOMSDAYS Trailer from Janet Hicks on Vimeo.
Doomsdays is an official selection of the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival