Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old School Mobsters Versus Angels in Supernatural Crime Thriller "Under the Dark Wing"

Genre: Supernatural Crime Thriller
Length - 14:39
Company: Creepy Kid Productions
Website: Official Facebook

"Under the Dark Wing" puts a lot on the viewer's plate: black and white old school presentation, suspense, supernatural mayhem, a crime boss, an "ex"-druggie, religious overtones, murder, and a mysterious and very pregnant young woman. 

That's a lot of pieces to throw together in a short film stew.

But does it work?


The story's protagonist appears at first to be Johnny Boy (Fiore Leo) -- a junkie who has turned his back on a life of drug addiction and sticks strictly to murder for hire.  He settles in for an intimate dinner with his employer and no doubt his supplier, George (David Graziano) but the thing is, his last gig didn't go over so well.  The guy he was sent to kill was already dead, and his apparent assassin was a young, pregnant woman (Jessy Row), who then implores Johnny Boy to help her.  He agrees.

Why?  I'm not sure, and that was probably the biggest problem I had with "Under the Dark Wing": I don't understand anyone's motivations. 

George is an "I don't care who I hurt but I get my money on time, every time" mob boss, so I get his pushing buttons with various characters.  But there are supernatural leanings around the young woman, but they are never explained or foreshadowed in any way, which makes their unveiling later on feel random and inconsequential.  Johnny Boy is a one dimensional struggling drug user, and his sudden decision to help someone he not only doesn't know but who has, by killing his mark, effectively stolen his job -- it just does not feel authentic.

I feel like there is a lot of story going on here, a story far larger than fourteen minutes could ever tell.  We need motivations, we need to understand these people and at least have some understanding about the purpose of the young woman before anything that happens onscreen will provide a good emotional payoff.

Writing: 2 / 5.  The script, written by Pedro Alvarado and director Christopher Di Nunzio, had too many balls up in the air and, given the short running time, there was no way they were going to be able to catch every single one.  As a result, most of the events taking place felt inconsequential, particularly when things take a turn for the fantastic later on.
Directing: 3 / 5.  I enjoyed Di Nunzio's direction in this picture.  He had several gutsy moves -- including the long hold on the chair that Johnny Boy vacates to go looking for his drug stash.  Though that hold felt a little too long, I appreciated what he was going for.
Editing: 3 / 5.  The film spent too much time on neat looking scenery (i.e. the field of grain scene) and not enough time trying to illustrate what the writers were going for.  As a result, the pace is off and on over the course of the picture.
Sound/Music: 2.5 / 5.  Di Nunzio also handled music duties.  It did the job, but I wasn't particularly affected by the score.
Acting: 2 / 5.  The script was talky, which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but I could not get around Jessy Row's performance.  She just sounds flat but add on top of that the wordy dialogue and there's some issues.  Leo and Keith Bennett (who plays the thug, looking and sounding the part quite well) are the shining stars here.  Graziano does what he can with what he's given, and for the most part winds up on top.

Final Grade: 2.5 / 5.

"Under the Dark Wing" is not available to watch online yet, but keep an eye out for it.  And don't forget to follow Christopher Di Nunzio's Creepy Kid Productions on his official Facebook and Twitter!

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!