Quint reviews LIGHTNING BUG from Anchor Bay with THAT 70s SHOW hottie Laura Prepon!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with an early review of an upcoming Anchor Bay release called LIGHTNING BUG that is produced by Laura (Hottie THAT 70S SHOW redhead) Prepon and stars relative newcomer Bret Harrison, Prepon herself and Kevin Gage, with a special slightly-larger-than-a-cameo appearance by Hal Sparks, king of VH1.
The movie is directed by Robert Hall, a special effects man turned director. Now I wasn't sure what the hell this was about. Anchor Bay contacted me about reviewing the film earlier than normal. I knew it was an indie and I figured it was some kind of genre picture since it was coming out of those gore-lovin' wondrous people at Anchor Bay... I was kinda right...
Funnily enough, I was expecting a horror flick and instead got a coming of age story about a geek in Butt-Fuck Hillbilly Nowhere, USA who is trying to survive his mother's abusive boyfriend and escapes into creative outlets like model sculpting, mask-making and horror video watching. If you want to know what the tone of this film is think Joe Dante's brilliant and under-seen MATINEE and mix it with RADIO FLYER.
The film is surprisingly engaging and while it suffers from a bad effect at the beginning (a body that so obviously a dummy being thrown from a moving car) that's not enough to jar you out of the story. You really come to root for the lead character. At least I did, but then again Robert Hall really plays into the average horror geek's shared experiences as teenagers. The excitement of finding another person (especially if it's a girl) that knows the same obscure horror flicks you do, the embarrassment of not fitting into most cliques, the exhilaration of trying your first make-up effect, even if most of us experimented with liquid latex, bottled blood and rubber maggots instead of building our own monsters from scratch. It's there. Especially the feeling of being one outsider in a sea of people who don't get you, don't want to get you and, in the extreme cases, will try to crush your dreams.
Our hero, young Bret Harrison, has many villains to fend off in this film. His abusive, redneck father figure not the least of them. The religious community begins to rally against him as well once he begins work on a Haunted House for Halloween. But just as he's gaining a new enemy, he starts picking up allies, buddies that don't get him, but like him... An elderly town member who is impressed with his talent and imagination and then his soul mate as played by Laura Prepon. She's a little gothy in this flick and hot as hell. Who wouldn't want her as a soul mate?
There's complications, of course, and that leads to a continuing downward spiral of violence, lies, abuse and perhaps something worse.
For a first film, LIGHTNING BUG is surprisingly strong and focused. The acting is also strong, especially in the lead (Harrison). His relationship with his mother is stressed, but still full of love. His growing fear and hatred for his mom's abusive boyfriend slowly builds and builds and builds until it reaches a boiling point. His relationship with his little brother is heartbreaking. They start off sharing in the joy of horror flicks and the creative creatures they create, however when the abuse starts the little brother begins to drift away from Harrison finding solace in religion. Unfortunately that means he's being slowly turned against his brother by the corrupt and hypocritical Ms. Duvet (Shannon Eubanks, playing the best bitch since Beth Grant in DONNIE DARKO).
This isn't to say the movie isn't without its flaws. The ending, in particular, is rough. It goes to some pretty dark places and I like that aspect of it, but it feels tonally out of place with the rest of the movie. Where the majority of the movie feels painfully and truthfully autobiographical (whether it is or not, who knows?) the ending feels like the projected fantasy of the character whose story is being told, not what he'd actually do in real life. The cinematography isn't bad, but it's very indie. Not distracting, though, which is still a step above most low budget films.
But having a rough last act and iffy cinematography doesn't derail the movie. I don't believe it's an instant classic, but it's a damn good first movie and Robert Hall really shows his chops as a dramatic director. I would have figured he'd know the Special Effects angle, but it was a complete surprise to me that he handled the young actors so well and wrote such complex relationships.
Definitely worth a rent when it comes out in the coming months, especially if you were one of those kids, like me, who patrolled the horror section at 2 or 3 different video stores a week, searching for unseen gems. If you discovered SLEEPAWAY CAMP or BLOOD DINER or DEAD ALIVE at your local video store, you'll most definitely relate to this flick.
That's it from me on this one, squirts! I'll be back soon with some goodies. Just you wait and see! 'Til then, this Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.
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May 10, 2005, 2:12 a.m. CST
Heh, just the voice. But yeah, she's still very fine.
May 10, 2005, 2:33 a.m. CST
But who gives a shit about this project?
May 10, 2005, 4:47 a.m. CST
I saw it opening night at the Philadelphia film fest where it broke the attendance record. Assking, you should get your "meet The feebles" dvd out and spank it. Leave the real films to real geeks. Pick this one up when it comes out. Highly recomended.
May 10, 2005, 7:11 a.m. CST
by Drunken Rage
Why is it every directorial debut is a "coming of age" movie? See this? No, thanks. And Quint, "Matinee," as fun as it is, is hardly "brilliant."
May 10, 2005, 7:34 a.m. CST
Really liked it, damn good debut...
May 10, 2005, 10:52 a.m. CST
...when she dyed her hair blonde. From redhead to blonde?! Would you smear horseshit on the Mona Lisa?! Oh, and "That 70s Show" has been on a steady decline for the last three years. And with Topher Grace leaving, it's not gonna get any better.
May 10, 2005, 2:50 p.m. CST
King's X. "Screamer". Reco'nize.
May 10, 2005, 4:18 p.m. CST
But I STILL want to see her nude, dammit.
May 10, 2005, 4:38 p.m. CST
Laura dyed her hair because she's playing a sick, twisted, real-life serial killer in a new movie. Please don't see it.
May 10, 2005, 8:27 p.m. CST
by Jim Jam Bongs
Plus I think she should take over the MJ role for Spider-Man 4-6.
May 10, 2005, 10:16 p.m. CST
T7S was supposed to end this year. However, the producers and most of the actors worked out another season, but without Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher, who want to do movie roles. Studio audience members say they've become total jerks, and didn't even sign autographs at the last filmings. I hear they made about $300k an episode each! And if you thought it sucked before, they're even going to add a new character to live in the Forman house!
May 10, 2005, 10:24 p.m. CST
I like that she is willing to produce genre efforts, even if they do sound as bad as this one does, and she seems like a sweet person, I just wish she'd get a real acting coach and work on her skills. Sometimes it is excruciating to watch her act, very forced, very telegraphed, not at all natural. I think she could be a star if she just got serious about her acting.
May 11, 2005, 1:14 a.m. CST
May 11, 2005, 8:32 a.m. CST
They stopped showing that here [Ireland] about 3 years ago.
May 13, 2005, 3:40 a.m. CST
missed the fact that the mother is brilliantly played by Hellraiser's Ashley Laurence in her best role to date. AND LAURA PREPON IS ALL KINDA NAKED!
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