When I decided I would take over full responsibilities for reviewing screeners, apparently I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I thought I could sit here comfortably as the movies either came to mailbox or my links would be sent to my email and I would watch whatever creation young filmmakers were trying to bring to life.
This is where Blackbags comes in. I hadn’t heard about it before, which is fine. A lot of good stuff is usually below our radars. But this… this is something else altogether. It’s a short film, running just under the twenty minute mark and that’s where my first personal issue with the film is: I’m not sure if I would call it a film, really. Blackbags gives you that impression you’re watching something your friends shot and cut together in one night while they were drunk and they thought it would be funny.
Before we go any further into detail, does Blackbags have any substance? Well, kinda. It does have a plot. The story centers on the cleverly named Ski Mask Guy, who literally grunts every word of dialogue while gritting his teeth (I have to admit, this is pretty hilarious). This is about how high the comedy gets. Speaking of getting high, his chronic smoking chronie, Meathead, who speaks like he has a distortion box over his voice, is bringing down all kinds of heat on them. You see, he can’t control himself, whether it’s drug abuse or killing hookers. And the hookers in this movie (there are only two, so don’t worry about losing track) are played by the same actress. So maybe it’s the hooker’s twin? Couldn’t they have at least changed her hair style? I don’t know and consistency doesn’t really matter here.
But that’s not all. The cops in this town, or at least just one who is dressed like a kid who is dressing up in his dad’s suit and fedora playing detective, are breathing down Ski Mask Guy’s neck to get a fix and if he don’t he gonna end up in the clink, see? Is that how the kid’s say it? Anyway, this is all getting out of hand apparently, so Ski Mask Guy thinks of a plan to fix it all that is so crazy that it just might work…
I could go ahead and spoil it for you, but I won’t. I’m trying to be a better person and not do that. Now is it the most original and thought out plan? No. Does it work? Yes, actually it does. For this run time, the film tells a story and wraps it up. But by now, I know what’s on your mind: There must be more to it than that in twenty minutes. Nope. At least not from a story telling point of view and I know this is where you might be thinking I’m being over critical and you would be right. It’s just an independent short film with little to no budget. Alright then, let’s talk about the technical aspects. Right from the start, you’ll notice something very distracting and ugly about Blackbags. A grainy, pixilated filter runs over the entire course of the film. That’s right, it looks like you’re watching early 90’s security footage or playing a Sega CD game on a small black and white TV. It can be distracting and turn you off from the movie. But this isn’t the only visual distraction. During the film’s more intense moments, it begins to do this throbbing effect, similar to a heartbeat and quickly zooming in and out of the scene, only it’s done digitally and not optically, so it can become a bit distracting. Although, this technique happens during heightened or stressful situations, so it does add to the effect.
But maybe that’s where the charm is in this film. I know it sounded like I was beating this film down and I was being harsh, but it’s a different kind of breed then what we’ve been conditioned to view as to what is a ‘film’. Sure, this wasn’t in 1080p, wasn’t running 24fps and more than likely wasn’t shot on a DSLR or an entry level professional camcorder. But this is the sort of film where you can recognize the heart behind it. It’s a group of friends with a desire to make something with a basic idea, regardless of technical limitations and sometimes that’s all it takes. Now Blackbags isn’t for everyone and some may find the video and audio off-putting, but behind it is actually a hilarious get-together of friends.
Blackbags is getting some hype, so you can check out some info and the trailer here on their official Facebook page.
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