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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Spine Chillers' Momentum Falters With "Are You On Your Way?"

"ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY?"
Length - 8:44
Company:  Tres Hombres
Website:  Official

Small time drug dealer Max is getting a big shipment of high quality illegal substances on his birthday.  Unfortunately, the resulting turmoil just might put a damper on the festivities . . .

CATCH UP

For those who don't know, Spine Chillers is a short horror series headed by the Tres Hombres -- namely, indie filmmakers Christopher Dinnan, Paul Harris and Evil Dead alumni Josh Becker.  Each episode is written and directed by one of the Hombres, but the others are almost always involved in some faculty.

Becker's last Spine Chillers episode, "Sorry I Couldn't Make It . . . " (which I reviewed here) was a disappointment to this long time Becker fan (his one-take Hitchcock inspired Running Time was a very good film indeed).  So it was with a positive mindset that I sat down to watch "Are You On Your Way?", his second written/directed episode, thinking that this would be a return to form.

It isn't.

CONS

Instead of a traditional review, I will simply state my issues with the film in a point by point manner.

First, the drug angle is not believable, which is a problem because the entire film hinges on the audience buying into the situation at hand.  Besides being a dealer who clearly samples his own wares, the main character Max (played by Dinnan) does not seem a credible person on whom a supplier would risk high quality product.

Even his long haired friend Jake (Paul Harris) and said friend's wife Amy (Carol Ilku) think he's kind of a tool.

Actually, I can't remember if they're married or not.  It doesn't matter.

Second, there is no energy to the film whatsoever.  Even when a certain character charges into a room with a gun, it seems almost anticlimactic.  In the previous two installments of Spine Chillers, there has been a whacky but undeniable energy and a certain presence behind the camera.

It feels like Becker phoned this one in, just like the first episode.

Third -- who stands around in front of their couch and plays air guitar for fun?  Do people really do this?  Maybe for like ten seconds, but for the duration of an entire song, and maybe multiple songs?  I couldn't buy into the characters seriously, because between their mean spirited comments about Max and the air guitar, they came off as extremely juvenile.

CONCLUSION

That being said, I did enjoy the finale.  Dinnan's acting saves the moment -- he feels genuine, and that added some much needed gravity to an otherwise . . . I'm going to use the word juvenile again.  This story feels like a student film, not the work of a seasoned veteran of independent filmmaking.

Check out "Are You On Your Way?" on YouTube and visit the Tres Hombres' official Spine Chillers website here, as well as my reviews for "Sorry I Couldn't Make It", "Roadkill" and "Frontier Style"!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 1 / 5.  Nothing about the story felt genuine, and the only reason why the ending was anything better than laughable was a nice nervous breakdown moment courtesy of Dinnan.
Directing: 1 / 5.  Becker's camera work is slow and disinterested for the most part, and flickers for a moment when the action kicks in, but it's not enough to keep the storyline from drowning.
Editing: 2 / 5. The film is cut as well as it can be considering that the material on screen just isn't exciting.  The air guitar is embarrassing and takes me out of the story completely, but what's he going to do, just cut it out entirely?  There isn't enough story to pad out even the scant eight and a half minutes or so of running time.
Sound/Music: 1 / 5. Aside from the intro music, which is the same for all episodes, I don't remember any music aside from the air guitar music, and the finale's music, neither of which added anything ot the experience.
Acting: 3 / 5.  The acting is literally the saving grace of the film.  Paul Harris, who plays Jake, does a good job of acting equal parts sleaze ball and cool guy.  Carol Ilku is reasonable as Amy.  And Dinnan of course does a good job with what he's given, but even he is a little uneven at the start, while talking on the phone.

Final Grade: 1.6 / 5. 



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!