Thursday, March 18, 2010

DARK FANTASY - A BADASS STUDY OF INDEPENDENT FILM-MAKING




DARK FANTASY – A BADASS STUDY OF INDEPENDENT FILM-MAKING

By: HERB WEST

Do you want me to show you what my fantasies are like?

DARK FANTASY is an ambitious little film by Ian J. Keeney that takes us into the mind of a serial killer. It stars Cristoph A. Nowaczyk as Art, a recently paroled murderer, and he gives off a creepy, weasely, unlikable vibe from the start. DARK FANTASY can be best described as a crime thriller with a descent into madness. The film follows Art as he tries to resist his urges to kill while either bedding, or outright raping, every hot girl in town.

We also have a Sam Jackson-type character who is not what he appears to be. For most of the film, we're not sure if he is a thug, a villain, a cop, a combination of all of those, or something else entirely. About half way through the film, we find out that nothing is as it seems, so we as an audience just have to try to keep up. Much like SHUTTER ISLAND, this is a film you have to go into with an open mind and knowing as little about it as possible.

I'm not even going to try to explain the plot because it would be doing a great disservice to it. Instead, I will explain why I think DARK FANTASY should be looked at as the template for all future independent films. I know that this is unlikely, and I'm not suggesting that anyone rip DARK FANTASY off. I'm just saying that the following film-making theories represented in DARK FANTASY are sound.

DARK FANTASY makes good use of imagery.

A good example is the nude woman lying face down in bed at the crime scene. Ever since GOLDFINGER, this has been a powerful image if competently directed. In scenes like this we don't need to know what happened. We don't need to see blood or gore. We don't need a coroner character to come in and pronounce the woman dead. We already know something ugly and terrible has happened, and our minds fill in the rest.

DARK FANTASY uses realistic nudity and violence.

Nudity in Hollywood films is usually presented in three contexts:
1. Shower Scene
2. Teenagers skinny dipping.
3. Love scenes bathed in blue light “darkness” where we see a leg, a breast, a face, a butt, a side view, a breast again, etc., all set to some cheesy music.

In real life when you see nudity or violence, especially when it's unexpected, it usually is dark or from a skewed perspective, such as out of the corner of your eye. It's never going to be perfectly framed shots under perfect lighting.

I'm not saying that all indies need nudity, some get by just fine without it. This is just one good example of why Indies have a lot going for them right now. Independent filmmakers can decide what they want to do without meddling executives. I want to see realism in films, not what these ridiculous, pampered Hollywood execs think the real world is supposed to be like. On the flip side of that, I've already encountered porn that tries to pass itself off as Independent film, and that is absolutely not what I am talking about either. I'm just saying that if you're going to use nudity in small films, it might as well be realistic. The same applies to violence.

DARK FANTASY is not afraid to use adult themes.

This goes right along with the above paragraph. DARK FANTASY is not afraid to push the boundaries with themes of rape, incest, and homosexuality. Before anyone panics, it is not that type of film per se. Actually, most of these themes are just hinted at, and I find that even more disturbing. Much of it is just a line or a quick scene that we're not even sure if we saw or heard correctly anyway. Because of the nature of it, we're never sure if any of it is real or not.

I can understand why Hollywood would always want to try to go for a PG-13 rating so they can market a film to the widest audience possible. This is reasonable, even though it usually means having a totally watered down version of what may have been a good film. I guess I can also understand why certain Indies would want to try for a PG-13 rating, but the fact is that young people are not interested in independent films. Teenagers are not going to have the patience for these movies, so why even try to go for a lesser rating? It doesn't make any sense. Almost every big budget film is eventually released as an unrated DVD anyway, so small filmmakers might as well just throw everything they have at their films from the beginning.

Independent films find an interesting way for the actors to play more than one part.

I'm sure that many Indies are done on a small budget, so that means many people involved have to work on many different areas of the production. DARK FANTASY found a good way for one person to play many different roles, while still making some kind of sense. It also finds a way to have more than one actor play similar, if not the exact same, characters. The acting leaves much to be desired, but it at least seems like these people were trying. I just don't think these cast members had any idea what to do with this type of material. This is a film that should be remade someday after the most obvious comparison has been forgotten.

Note to Hollywood: When you finally realize that Rob Zombie is a complete clown and reboot Halloween for the third time, hire Myles MacVane to play Dr. Loomis as soon as possible. Just do it. Pay him anything he wants. Don't believe me? Check out DARK FANTASY, and see for yourself.

-Herb West

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