Abruptio - Fantaspoa Festival Review
Director: Evan Marlowe
Starring: James Marsters, Hana Mae Lee, Robert Englund, Jordan Peele, Christopher McDonald
Written by: Evan Marlowe
Produced by: Kerry Finlayson, Kerry Marlowe
Cinematography by: Evan Marlowe
Original Score by: Patrick Savage, Hole Spies
Les Hackel is a guy down on his luck who wakes to find an explosive device has been implanted in his neck.
Sometimes you think you've seen it all and then a film like 'Abruptio' comes along and slaps you in the face. It's definitely the most bizarre and uniquely unsettling film of the year so far.
Having recently won the Audience Award for Best FX in a Feature Film at Panic Fest, 'Abruptio' is now doing the rounds at various film festivals including Fantaspoa out of Brazil, where it screens this evening. It's a film that has to be seen to be believed. A movie that stars puppets. Yes, lifelike puppets that also cleverly work as masks in various scenes, that combines bizarre alien conspiracies, real life guilt and a ton of blood to create this very unique viewing experience. It also features the vocal talent of some horror legends like Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Jordan Peele and James Marsters.
Marsters voices Les Hackel, a down and out 35 year old who has just been dumped by his annoying girlfriend and still lives with his nagging parents. He is an alcoholic who when we first meet him has started his difficult journey into sobriety (not for the first time) and is obviously struggling to keep it together. It doesn't help that his pal Dan (Jordan Peele) isn't exactly being his best friend by drinking beers in front of him.
Things go from bad to worse really quickly when Les receives some weird, mysterious messages about having a bomb implanted into his neck. This prompts Les to make some difficult decisions involving heinous crimes that he is being asked to commit. The remainder of the film follows Les as he interacts with unusual characters while performing some of the most brutal tasks imaginable.
Written and directed by Evan Marlowe, 'Abruptio' is 7 years of passion and pain thrown into approximately 94 minutes of storytelling. Marlowe cites 'The Dark Crystal' an an influence and it's easy to see some of that in this production but maybe more obvious an influence is the works of David Lynch. From the very beginning I got 'Lost Highway' vibes because of the intriguing mystery and then the film becomes very violent as Les descends into a surreal downward spiral that questions the existence of human beings and the threat of extraterrestrial entities.
It's a film that explores the themes of guilt, the moral compass and just how far would someone go if they had a gun stuck to their head. Marlowe and team never lack for originality here and it's an incredible achievement overall but despite the puppetry magic there is some dodgy CGI later on that really felt out of place. The puppets are terrifying. Like a creepy, uncanny valley version of 'Team America' but set in real life location. The voice work is fantastic and each actor certainly gives it 100 percent. It was nice to hear the inclusion of Sid Haig as Sal, a failed comedian who is also being controlled by an unknown blackmailer. Haig sadly passed away a few years ago.
'Abruptio' is also a darkly comedic piece of work that, while far from perfect and unhinged at times, is a great example of a creative filmmaker using everything at his disposal to make something that hasn't been seen before.
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- Gavin Logan
'Abruptio' screens at Fantaspoa and will be released later in the year