MoonshineReviewed By EricDSnider
Posted 03/04/06 04:42:02
SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: You watch enough "Mystery Science Theater 3000," you get a feel for what kind of movie best lends itself to being heckled. It needs to be bad, obviously, but it helps if it's also self-serious, either over- or under-acted, and rife with peculiar details.It's during movies like "Moonshine," an ultra-low-budget horror (?) film from Connecticut, that I miss the MST3K gang the most. Surely Mike (or Joel) and the robots would know how to deal with the teenage protagonist's elderly, decrepit parents. (Did they conceive him when they were 80?) They would certainly have plenty to say about the fact that though "Moonshine" is billed as a horror film, it contains nothing even resembling horror until the last 15 minutes. And the character of Pat (Ginny Fitzpatrick), a buxom, chain-smoking convenience-store owner who wears leopard-print tops and and too much makeup and flirts dirtily with her teenage employee -- why, she's right out of a Roger Corman film.
Alas, "Moonshine" only exists by itself, with no running commentary from a man and two wise-cracking robots to make it tolerable. Directed by Roger Ingraham from a script he co-wrote with Lori Isbell, "Moonshine" takes place in what appears to be the most depressing town in the world, a sleepy, dreary little place where everyone speaks without inflection or enthusiasm. Peter (Brian Greer) takes a job at Pat's convenience store in order to support his ancient, ailing parents, and finds himself smitten with his co-worker, a girl named Danny (Sarah Ingraham, the director's sister).
Danny is engaged to be married, however, so Peter's relationship with her is limited to standing around the store (which barely gets enough business to sustain one employee, let alone two) and occasionally smoking pot in the storeroom.
I should mention that a few nights before Peter started working there, Danny wrecked her car, was set upon by some kind of thing, and now occasionally passes out.The film is only an hour and 17 minutes long, and nothing happens for a solid hour of that. Peter and Danny stand around; there are cutaway scenes of police finding dead bodies and wondering who the killer is; Peter and Danny stand around some more. But in that last 15 minutes, Ingraham begins to tell an atmospheric, almost wordless story, and to do so very stylishly. It would be an intriguingly dark, well-shot finale if only the story preceding it had been any good. Or heck, if there had even BEEN a story.
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