Manson Family Vacation Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Logolite Entertainment
Written and directed by J. Davis
2015, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released theatrically and on VOD on October 6th, 2015 | Released on Netflix on October 27th, 2015
Jay Duplass as Nick
Linas Phlilips as Conrad
Leonora Pitts as Amanda
Nick and Conrad haven't gotten along in a long time. Nick is the responsible brother, partner in a law firm, nuclear family, life all figured out. Conrad is the drifter breezing into town with no notice on his way out to the desert to work with an environmental agency with no listed phone number. Over his short visit, Nick and Conrad clash over visiting the Manson murder sites, their lifestyles, and their father, finally realizing that regardless of who we are to the outside world, family is forever.
Yeah, I teared up at Manson Family Vacation. Want to make something of it?
I almost hate to tell you that this isn't a horror movie, it just happens to use Charles Manson as backdrop, but goddamn this movie is fantastic and if you can take a break from horror fandom for two hours, watch this award-winning independent movie funded through Kickstarter.
J. Davis has crafted a masterful story about siblinghood and the familial strain of growing up with Manson Family Vacation. This movie skims along at a deft pace, never dumbing down the dialogue but never leaving a detail out so that the watcher is left behind. The story is so relatable, it will undoubtedly speak to anyone with a sibling they wish they'd loved just a little better.
Frankly, Jay Duplass and Linas Phillips are outstanding. I suspect some of the dialogue must be ad-libbed; they speak so naturally and argue seamlessly it's as though you're trespassing on a private conversation. While Davis wrote the role of the straight-laced brother Nick with Duplass in mind, Duplass' mastery of Nick's regret and guilt is haunting. Linas Phllips' behavioral choices for Conrad will have you wondering if he's that way all the time; he is 100% invested in the character and the moment. Even supporting characters like Leonora Pitts as Nick's wife Amanda are brilliant. Her quiet strength and level-headed arguments set Nick on the right path when his frustration with Conrad reaches a breaking point.
An editor himself, Davis cuts this film just right. It never lingers, never rushes, yet always leaves you breathless, aching for the brothers' hurt but also dying to see what happens next. This movie will reaffirm your faith in humanity.
Trust me, you want to go on the Manson Family Vacation.