On Friday the 13th I was determined to check out a locally made flick called The Deadbeats, shot and playing at 5 Points Theatre in Riverside. Even though Nick and Tiff had other plans, I bought a ticket and ventured to the theatre.
I arrived 20-30 minutes early, but there was already a decent-sized group of people waiting for the movie. As I waited in the lobby for the movie to start, more and more people arrived. As I dodged the members of the growing crowd, I realized that the screening was going to be packed.
I had seen the preview for the film on the 5 Points Theatre website, and I realized that Jeremy Tidwell, one of the actors from the movie, was milling around and talking to people. A lot of the folks present obviously knew him and everyone that talked to him seemed excited.
The theatre finally opened and I found a seat near the back (I had to leave right after the film ended). Some of the film’s cast and crew got up and spoke. Apparently the film has a shot at becoming a full length film through an awards or funding program. The audience was given info on how to help make that happen but I don’t recall the details.
The film revolves around four young friends who resolve to screen a reportedly cursed film at their theatre to keep it from going out of business. During a private screening, however, the four friends find themselves under attack from the monsters from the film, who have come to life.
I didn't understand how all of the friends fit in with the theatre – the girl in the group owned it I think, and Tidwell's character, an engineer or an architect or something, was apparently being forced to remodel it. I'm not sure about the other two guys, though. The girl refers to the theatre as the group’s home a couple of times.
The film itself isn't exactly Oscar-worthy but it wasn’t horrible. The bad stuff is essentially what any independent short film would suffer from. Awkward dialogue. Bad sound work (a scene on the roof of the theatre is particularly hard to understand due to some wind). I've seen better acting compared to what's on display here but I've seen worse in films with huge budgets featuring celebrities that make way too much money. The main four actors might just not be that comfortable around the camera yet. One of them seemed to be channeling an adult Chunk from The Goonies.
My one huge gripe is – spoiler alert – the ending. Or the lack of one – it ended with a “To Be Continued.” There’s barely anything to the film in terms of length, so when we finally get to a decent spot where the friends are cornered by the monsters, it was a little disappointing to not even see how it ends. I guess all that's due to the filmmakers’ goal of expanding on the film, however.
The good stuff: all those involved obviously really enjoyed what they did and they clearly put a lot of work in to the film. The movie overall wasn't really scary but does feature a genuinely creepy scene with a young (ghost? zombie?) girl briefly terrorizing one of the four friends in a bathroom. I picked up on a little homage to Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well – the quartet are seen from behind as they’re watching and discussing the cursed film.
In conclusion, I think the movie has a lot of heart, obviously due to the time and effort put in from those involved. I’d like to see what these guys could come up with next, whether it's the conclusion to The Deadbeats or something else.