In the latest batch of VOD releases from the margins, Hugo Weaving tackles Shakespeare, Maisie Williams robs a house, and Pauly Shore drops a dookie.
Tom of Your Life (VOD September 1) Writer/director/editor/composer/star Jeremy Sklar aims for a wistful Benjamin Button vibe with what the opening credits call “a fable” about a guy who lives his entire lifespan in a single day, aging the equivalent of four years every hour. Slightly unstable nurse Jess (Baize Buzan) nabs Tom from the hospital once he reaches the eight-year-old stage, determined to show him the joys of life rather than let him be locked up by the military. The early scenes have a sweet, whimsical tone, but once Sklar himself takes over as Tom (playing the character from ages 28 to 104, with unconvincing aging and de-aging effects), the movie shifts into a plodding drama, bogged down by Jess’ personal problems and a subplot about a private investigator tracking the main duo. Rather than exhibiting childlike wonder, Tom is mostly irritable and rude, and the movie ends up dreary and sour instead of uplifting. Grade: C
Widow’s Point (VOD and DVD September 1) Cult filmmaker Gregory Lamberson (Slime City) adapts the 2018 novel by horror fixture Richard Chizmar and his son Billy, and the somber ghost story is probably a poor fit for the guy who once made a movie about possessed breast implants. Lamberson plays things straight here, telling the story of writer Tom Livingston (Craig Sheffer) as he locks himself in a supposedly haunted lighthouse for a weekend as a publicity stunt. Not surprisingly, the lighthouse actually is haunted, and Tom spends the movie being tormented by low-budget spirits, while also narrating the history of the lighthouse’s many horrific tragedies. The scares are a standard mix of sudden loud noises and apparitions floating in the background, and the pacing is lugubrious until Sheffer goes for an ill-advised full-on freak-out in the second half. There are a handful of spooky touches, but Lamberson never captures the tone of Lovecraftian dread he seems to be aiming for. Grade: C
Guest House (VOD September 4) The first feature film writing credit for Troy Duffy since his bro-cult favorite Boondock Saints movies is … a moronic Pauly Shore comedy? Duffy teams with YouTuber Sam Macaroni (who co-wrote and directed) for this excruciating exercise in crassness, about a bland young couple (Mike Castle and Aimee Teegarden) who foolishly buy a home with an inconsiderate drug addict living in the guest house. The bearded Shore seems mostly weary trotting out his tired “weasel” persona as the unfortunately named Randy Cockfield, and the movie is full of sexist, homophobic jokes. It’s also choppily edited and shot like a local TV commercial, with a large portion of the production budget allocated to a puppet of a possum on flakka. Jackass star Steve-O skateboards through a glass door and bashes his head into a wall, Chris Kattan plays a horny delivery guy, and Lou Ferrigno makes “funny” prison-rape references. By the time Randy shits his pants and says “I dookied,” it barely even registers. Grade: F
Measure for Measure (VOD September 4) Most modernized William Shakespeare adaptations retain the playwright’s distinctive language, but filmmaker Paul Ireland takes a much looser approach here, ditching the dialogue and reconfiguring the mostly comedic plot as a gritty, Melbourne-set crime drama. Hugo Weaving gives a commanding performance as a local underworld boss known as Duke, but the rest of the cast struggles to measure up, and the central star-crossed romance between a whiny musician and a strong-willed Muslim woman is cheesy and unconvincing. The story kicks off with a mass shooting, and Ireland attempts to add contemporary social commentary to the basic structure of Shakespeare’s play, but this hybrid version fails to capture the Bard’s eloquence or the complexity of present-day urban conflict. Instead of grand, artfully expressed emotions, the movie delivers overwrought weeping from characters with thin motivations and nothing worthwhile to say. Grade: C+
The Owners (VOD and select theaters September 4) The burglars who pick the wrong house to rob are a horror-movie staple, and Julius Berg’s film (based on a Belgian graphic novel) doesn’t do anything unexpected with the formula. It’s pretty obvious that the kindly old couple played by Sylvester McCoy and Rita Tushingham are far more sinister than they first appear, and that the group of disorganized hooligans who decide to hold the couple hostage and demand the combination to their hidden basement safe are not going to walk away with the fortune they’re hoping for. The story is a bit slow to start, but once the elderly couple reveal their true motivations, the movie grows creepy and unsettling. Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams makes for an appealingly pragmatic protagonist as the most reluctant member of the gang, and onetime Doctor Who star McCoy clearly relishes his villainous turn. The nastier the movie gets, the more fun it is to watch. Grade: B