Saturday, January 3, 2015

DVD, Blu-ray & VODebut: From Canada, April Mullen and Tim Doiron's fast-moving, bloody 88

Perhaps we should think of April Mullen, the director of this new movie, as a kind of Quentina Tarantina -- so insistent is she on giving us fast-moving, comedic and bloody mayhem with a definite ironic twist. If, by now, we've seen a bit too much of aped Tarantino (if not way too much of the real thing, as well), this should not necessarily put you off viewing Ms Mullen's latest offering, 88. It's rather fun, in its over-the-top manner. Much of that fun is provided by a fellow named Tim Doiron, who wrote the screenplay and co-stars as the unlucky young man who finds himself smitten with the film's leading lady, Gwen, payed by Katharine Isabelle, whom some of us fondly remember from Ginger Snaps.

Ms Mullen (shown at left, and something of a looker herself), is an actress, as well as director, and she certainly gives her leading lady enough rope to either hang herself or lasso a nifty performance. Ms Isabelle manages to do both. She's deadly serious throughout, which results in the movie around her often seeming skewed, as the rest of the cast have caught onto the irony and laughs, while she is dead set on nothing but revenge. Sort of. The plot here, you see, deals with a young woman in a "Fugue state," which the movie goes out of its way to explain in some detail, none of which makes the goings-on any more believable, though it does help explain some of the bizarre behavior on display.

88 -- the title refers to just about every street address and motel room number throughout the movie -- begins with our heroine (above) sitting in a diner where, suddenly, all hell breaks loose. This ploy happens often throughout the film, and while it eventually drags things down, initially (and for quite awhile) it proves a lot of fun. This girl is clearly muddled, and when the movie begins flipping back and forth in time, so are we.

For much of its running time, 88 is one of those movies that asks: "Who is this character, what the fuck is happening, and why?" Slowly the pieces come together, but I'm afraid that fugue state doesn't really explain it all to our satisfaction. Yet the action rarely ceases, and much of it is randy, nasty fun, as Gwen looks to find and kill the person responsible for her lover's untimely demise. (He is played by Kyle Schmid, above, right, used here mostly for his drowsy sex appeal.)

Instead it is Mr. Doiron, above, as a new character in Gwen's life named Ty, who provides most of the movie's energy and spirit. The actor is marvelous as this screwball, comical-but-sexy wonder who hopes against hope that he can make Gwen his own. As well as a terrific performance, Doiron also gives us a few surprises via his screenplay.

Canada's old-time favorite Michael Ironside (above) plays the lead cop investigating the many deaths that Gwen oversees, while Christopher Lloyd (below) handles the villain role with his usual bizarre aplomb. Eventually, there are so many killings and maimings going on that you fear there will be nary a cast member remaining by movie's end.

The violence soon become comical -- it's meant to be -- and when you get to the point where one character (the lead cop, as I recall) says, "She's armed, she's dangerous, and she must be stopped!" you know you're in comic book territory.

88 -- from Millennium Entertainment and running, yes, 88 minutes -- makes its DVD, Blu-ray and VOD debut this coming Tuesday, January 6. Consider yourself informed (or maybe warned).

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