Tuesday, October 26, 2010

DVDebut: the Deagol Brothers' MAKE-OUT WITH VIOLENCE is a love story with a twist

You'll notice that I am not using the term zombie movie to describe MAKE-OUT WITH VIOLENCE, the two-year-old film from an entity known as the Deagol Brothers (try finding a photograph of this pair!) that opened in a very limited release in Los Angeles (November 2009), in New York (August 2010), and arrives today, October 26, on DVD and Blu-ray.  There is a zombie in the movie; in fact, she very nearly has the lead and probably a majority of the screen time (and the actress who plays her -- Shellie Marie Shartzer -- gives one of the best zombie performances ever). But so what? This is first (and in every other way) a tale of crossed (star- and otherwise) lovers and of the inability of human beings to find the right mate. No one in the movie connects with his or her true love; in fact, every relationship we see is wrong.

One after another, if she loves him, he sure as hell doesn't love her. Conversely, if he loves her, she's got eyes only for someone else. Is it not fitting then, that the biggest and final fuck-up, love-wise, would be that of the living for the dead-alive? And if, at long last, that love is actually returned, we must view it only as the love that one eater of live meat might have for a very large, ambulatory steak. Is our hero, Patrick, one of a pair of twins, smitten enough to make the big sacrifice? Only by viewing this movie will you have your answer.

The good news is that there are, aside from the answer to that question, a lot of good reasons to watch Make-Out With Violence. The photography is stunning. Shot in Tennessee by a trio of new cinematographers, the movie is a thing of extraordinary beauty, first frame to last. The filmmaker brothers aren't afraid of slow pacing and many quiet moments, but so well does their cast fill up these moments, that the 105 minutes move along at just the right clip. We're in a upper-middle class town, where the kids seem typical and the younger brother loves to tag along with his older siblings. A young and very popular high school girl has gone missing, and the sadness and loss is palpable.When she finally turns up, the news is not the kind you'd want to share with your friends and family.

Don't look for explanations here -- particularly about the how and why of the zombie situation-- because none will be offered.  This is the reason that I think we must take on face value that Wendy, our sort-of heroine, should be seen in terms of how she fits into the love story rather than how she died and why she made the big "changeover." Instead concentrate on the characters and their needs and how, with great tenderness and feeling, they screw up in achieving them.  The music is terrific, from rock to love songs, and there are so many small and large highlights throughout the movie -- the pet rat, Rody (played so well by Jordan Lehning), the swimming pool scene (someone must have seen Skolimowski's Deep End) -- that you'll have no trouble staying interested. Provided you don't demand too many answers.

As the movie year draws to its close, I suspect this is one of the films that will be part of my list of "specials" at season's end.  In any case, Make-Out With Violence (think of it as Deadgirl set amidst a much kindlier, classier crowd) is a film you should not miss. Available via Factory 25, you can rent or purchase it starting
today, October 26.

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