Distraught Movie Review
Written by Steve Pattee
A Bublenutz Production
AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! – The Victim
Directed by Jason Patfield
Written by Jay Patfield based on Jay Kranson’s “An Exercise to Manipulation”
28 minutes, Rated R
Jack Guasta as Carmen Aurello
Thomas Fernandez, Jason Patfield and Tom Lodewyck as Masked Killer
Kevin Bliss as Detective Hersch
A young man is missing and the police have no idea where he is.
But one person knows.
The masked man who has him in his basement.
Systematically torturing him.
Distraught tries to be entertaining, but is entirely too flawed to rise above anything more than mediocrity — and it barely gets to that level.
The first, and biggest, problem is the acting. When you have one person charged with carrying a movie — as in the case of the victim — you better be damn sure he can do it. And Jack Guasta can’t. With most of his lines consisting of screams in the throes of pain, coupled with him being the centerpiece of the movie, he has to be believable. But he’s not. Never once did I buy the victim’s pain. Unfortunately, because of this, the movie suffers worse than his character did.
In addition, Thomas Fernandez, Jason Patfield and Tom Lodewyck — who all played the killer — didn’t help matters. Even if a killer doesn’t have lines, he can still be menacing. How did the actors/stuntmen who portrayed Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees do it? I couldn’t tell you. But there is something from them that is missing here, and if it were turned up, just a notch, it would have helped the film massively.
So what ends up happening is you get a victim you don’t care about and a killer you aren’t scared of.
Another problem is the editing. Despite a running time of 28 minutes, Distraught could still stand to lose about five minutes. Some of the pain inflicted on the victim will make you squirm, sure, but one scene — involving the sawing open of a chest and stomach with a wicked-looking knife — drags on entirely too long. It gets to the point where it’s boring. And, to make it worse, you are forced to watch this cut — easily the best effect in the film — through a blood-splattered lens. That’s the equivalent of seeing a girl’s boobs — through her bra. Yeah, the swell of the breast is nice, but I’d like to see the entire thing, please.
The effects could use a splash or two more of the red stuff, but they are decent enough for what is obviously a no-budget film. There is a power sander scene, though, that should go entirely because it lacks any believability. Admittedly, I’ve never had the pleasure of taking a sander to the face, but I’m pretty sure it would leave more of a mark than a bad rash.
Say this, though: There’s promise for Distraught. The ending, while not overly shocking or mind-blowing, is done very well. I did not feel cheated, and it works well within the confines of the movie. Upon second viewing, I found I completely missed a clue, and a couple of scenes that didn’t make sense the first time around were perfectly clear. Kudos to Jason Patfield, the director and screenwriter, for tying it up nicely.
At the end of the movie, it is noted that it is “part 3/6.” I have no idea what parts one, two and four through six have to offer. But even with its plethora of flaws, there is a nugget of something in there that makes me interested in checking out future work by Patfield.
If Patfield can hone his editing skills, tighten up the script and get better actors, I suspect his next offering will be much more enjoyable.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded as this is a screener.
Distraught is far from perfect, and it’s a good example of how editing can, and will, affect a movie. If it lost the superimposed blood on the lens and some of the unnecessary camera tricks and some of its fat were trimmed, it would be a more enjoyable flick. And that’s what makes this movie a pisser to review. I can see what’s underneath, but as it stands right now, it’s not good enough to recommend.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)
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