Saturday 16 October 2010

Everything's Eventual (2009)

Director: J P Scott
Stars: Michael Flores, Joe Jones, Cavin Gray Schneider and Shane Dean
This film was an official selection at the 6th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.

Everything's Eventual is a 'dollar baby', an intriguing concept that I hadn't heard about before. It seems that Stephen King allows student filmmakers to adapt his short stories for the screen for a single dollar. They can't be released commercially and King retains the rights, but it gives amateur filmmakers serious material to work with. I'm not surprised that they're leaping at this proposition. Arizona director J P Scott spent $45,000 making this, his debut feature, and only $1 was to obtain the permission to use the story. The sound isn't perfect and some scenes are a little dark, but it's capably done and it's a great way to start out. Frank Darabont started out with a dollar baby called The Woman in the Room in 1983. Seven years later he was working in TV, four more and he made what is currently the top film on the IMDb Top 250, The Shawshank Redemption. Through loyalty or something like it, he stayed with King for The Green Mile and The Mist. Dollar babies seem to work.

This one is about Dinky Earnshaw, a young man with special powers. We see him as a ten year old drawing symbols on a window and making flies die. Later it's drawing symbols outside a yard with a big dog in it and eventually drawing symbols in a letter to a bully called Skipper, a colleague at work who beats him up. Quite what happens to the dog and Skipper we don't know to begin with, but it can't be good. It's enough to bring him to the attention of Mr Sharpton, who rings him up out of the blue with a job offer. Sharpton works for a company called TransCorp and describes himself as King Arthur collecting knights. He calls Dinky a trans, someone with special powers, a knight he needs because their goal is to get rid of all the Skippers in the world. He knows he's hired when he heads up to the sky in a private jet, sipping champagne and preparing to join the mile high club. He's very hired. As he repeats to us as he explains his story, he has it pretty good.

It's a strange life, exercising his very particular power to cause people to kill themselves by e-mail using special TransCorp software without anything being up front and personal. Everything is at a distance here, not just his ability but his fringe benefits too. He gets a free house in Columbia City, a free car, free everything. Anything he writes on Dinky's day board is waiting for him when he gets home, from an apple pie to an Henri Rousseau painting. As long as he ends the week broke everything carries on. The turning point of the film is when it ceases to be at a distance, when the work he so blindly does for all that free stuff comes home to him. When he opens his eyes to see just what he's doing, the questions begin. One of Columbia City's own has committed suicide: Dr Andrew Neff, a scientist at the forefront of AIDS research, hardly one of the Skippers of the world. With the questions comes the danger, and we wonder about what other powers are out there.
I haven't read King's story, but this is apparently a pretty close adaptation of the title piece from his Everything's Eventual collection. It's an intriguing little critter but, except for the unashamed teaser of an opening, it unfolds chronologically and inevitably which highlights that, somewhat surprisingly, the source material is the low point. Scott does a good job with what he has, letting the plot unfold naturally without ever feeling forced and certainly making us feel like he had a lot more than $45,000 behind him. His actors are capable, Michael Flores and Joe Jones reminding of Wil Wheaton and Liam Neeson respectively as Dinky and his boss. A couple of actors from Deadfall Trail are notable, Cavin Gray and Shane Dean, but they get small parts with little to do. Dean, who plays Skipper, is always fun to watch, and he's acted for a wide range of local filmmakers, many of whom are graduates of the film program at Arizona State University.

Scott is the latest welcome addition to that list, having reenrolled when that program began, and only time can tell whether he can live up to the obvious Frank Darabont career path comparison. That's a heck of a trail he blazed and one that surely can't be easy to follow but the concept of the dollar baby seems to give small time filmmakers a real chance to attempt it and become big time filmmakers. If only there was a way to see the things outside of screenings at film festivals. There's a solid argument to build that circulating material like this is precisely what the internet is for, but I haven't gone searching yet, for The Woman in the Room or others. Interestingly, the Everything's Eventual website suggests that this dollar baby almost became the first to break on a wider basis, as Stephen King apparently liked the movie and tried to help it gain a theatrical release. In the end that fell through, but it does suggest possibilities for the future.

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