Brackish DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Mad Angel Films
Bad stuff happens up there. – Local inbred.
Written and directed by Matthew Peters
2007, Region 1, 89 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on October 23rd, 2007
Dior Aioubov as Jake
Rachel Powers as Tila
Al Amendolare as Chad
Josh Campbell as Brad
Catherine Presite as Beth
Brackish's story is not a new one. Jake (Dior Aioiubov) loses his girlfriend in an accident and spends the next six months in a state of depression, blaming himself. Jake's sister, Tila (Rachel Powers), decides to cheer him up by taking him on a camping trip with her friends (Al Amendoloare, Josh Campbell and Catherine Presite) — because nothing cheers up someone depressed over the loss of a loved one like a couples camping trip when their significant other is dead. But that's okay, because it's not just camping at just any old place. This trip they are going to a ghost town where, story has it, the people went nuts and killed each other. The only survivor to walk out of the joint was Jake and Tila's dad. I smell a chosen one in the mix.
One of Brackish's biggest problems, and it has many, I assure you, is its pacing. Nothing happens in this movie. There is so much time dicking around, that I really have to wonder how many pages the script was. The car ride to the abandoned town alone took 20 minutes. Then there's 15 minutes of screwing around in one abandoned house. Coincidentally, this is Jake’s grandfather’s house where, after five minutes of poking around, Jake found the mysterious magic book that will potentially bring his honey bunny back from the dead. Then another 20 minutes of wandering the woods and camping out (where there is little gained by this little jaunt, except for a small scuffle between Jake and Chad, and Jake learning more about the book he discovered.). The problem is, up until the first death (30 minutes before the movie is over), nothing ever happens. There is some back and forth banter between the kids and, oh yeah, there was that stop when the girls had to go to the bathroom where the necessary interaction/foreshadowing with the locals was forced in, but other than that, nothing. I always bring up Wolf Creek when I bitch about taking six days to show nothing, but in Wolf Creek's defense, it had a brilliant cinematographer in Will Gibson. While there may have been nothing going on, at least I had some fantastic shots to look at. Not so much in Brackish, unless I like shots from the ground up (which I do, but in Michael Bay movies, and not all the time). Writer/director Matthew Peters really likes the "up angle" shot because he uses it a lot. When there is finally a showdown with some witches or wiccans or cult or whatever, you are happy. Not because something is finally happening, but you know it's almost over. (And, speaking of the baddies, are people in robes supposed to be scary? Is this 1958? Am I watching a Hammer film?)
Brackish also blew it with not utilizing a potentially great location in an abandoned town. One of the special features on the disc is a video of what looks to be location scouting of some of the buildings at — assumingly — their disposal. But the heaviest they used that location in the film is is when Jake explores his grandpappy's home. It's a relatively well shot scene, too, and since it is coupled with decent score, there's actually some tension as Jake creeps through this decrepit old house with only a flashlight, hoping to find some treasure. But, unfortunately, once the scene is over, just forget about the ghost town because there'll be no more of it.
My filmmaking friend once told me that there is a standard formula movies follow, one thing being something big happens at about the 20 minute mark to maintain your interest. Of course, after he told me that, I watched for it and he's right for the most part. I've also found that, since he told me, if something doesn't happen within 20 minutes to maintain my interest, I usually end up not liking the film.
It took Brackish about an hour and twenty-five minutes for something to happen that was interesting. Pity that the movie is only an hour and a half long.
Video and Audio:
At what point are low-budget filmmakers going to realize that a 4:3 presentation, especially in this day and age, only makes their film appear cheap and amateur. Like most low-budget digitally shot films, Brackish looks best in brighter, well lit shots. One scene, towards the end, was particularly dark and I thought they were using flashlights to light it. I was wrong. Watching the special features, I saw the scene was lit using lanterns. Lanterns. Wow.
The audio has a good mix, and it that would have been a plus for the disc…if they had used a boom mic instead of the camera mic. (To explain, a boom mic is a mic attached to about a seven to ten foot pole. This allows the filmmaker to get closer to actor by placing the mic directly over, underneath or to the side of said actor.) As you can imagine, a person becomes quite limited by using the mic attached to the camera, causing things such as inaudible audio. There were plenty of scenes where I had to rewind in order to hear what was said. Plus, it doesn't help when you are recording in a moving vehicle with the windows down.
- Behind the Scenes
- Will Steak Float?
- Exploring A Ghost Town
Brackish does a good job putting quantity on this disc for features, but the quality is lacking.
The outtakes were surprisingly bland. I'm a fan of outtakes, but these did nothing for me.
The behind the scenes featurette is overlong and brings nothing to the table. Generally, these are my favorite featurettes to watch on a low-budget DVD, as something is usually learned from them (like how they did something to save money on the production). Unfortunately, it's just someone running around with a video camera, filming random things that may be funny to the cast and crew, but not anyone else. The featurette also exemplifies how much of a "I have a camera, let's make a movie!" film this is.
Skip "Will Steak Float?" It's nothing but someone tossing some steak into a creek to see if it will float. This one is obviously for those involved with the making of the film.
The auditions are worth a look, but have your remote handy for volume, as they are done outside and wind plays a factor.
I was quite frustrated watching the ghost town footage. Instead of seeing cool and creepy buildings (which they were), all I saw was missed opportunity.
The slideshow is a slideshow.
Brackish is the perfect example of what frustrates me about low-budget filmmaking: The accessibility of cameras. Matthew Peters has the passion to make a movie, this is obvious, but he has not honed his talent nearly enough to make a full length feature, much less put it out there for sale. With the exception of two possible scenes in the movie (the aforementioned searching of the house scene and the very, very end of the movie), this film is a bust and should be avoided altogether.