Wednesday 8 January 2014

Cell Phone Psycho (2010)

Director: David S White
Star: Billy Slaughter
This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.
I can't argue too much with a picture made by a production company named Evil Penguin Films. That's awesome and their logo is just as cool. If this surreal homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, made in the form of a public service announcement, is anything to go by, they're surely fun people to hang with. I'd say that even before seeing their other short on Vimeo, Marigny Bywater Ladies Tea Auxiliary Sunday Demolition Society, which surely confirms it. Cell Phone Psycho is another of those shorts designed to kick off short film selections at film festivals. I'm sure that's where the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival would have put it too, if only Zombiefication hadn't landed the slot first. There can be only one, right? Well, this one's versatile enough, and short enough at only three and a half minutes, to meet the need and it even ends with a neat breaking of the fourth wall that would warrant a smile even on the hundredth viewing. If it lost thirty seconds more in the middle, it would be blissful.

The star is Billy Slaughter, an unfortunate name for an actor given the circumstances. The concept is to have him watch a movie in a theatre, while simultaneously doing all the things that we all hate people doing when they're watching movies in theatres. You know, like leaving his mobile phone on, answering it during the movie and chatting through the whole thing. He throws out spoilers and even has the gall to tell his fellow moviegoers to shh. To emphasise that this is a PSA, there are text overlays to show us where we're going, but they need to combine with the title to really highlight where we're really going. It's the shower scene, of course, because 'WE WILL FIND YOU' and the Evil Penguin folk do so in surreal magnificence. Movie fans will deconstruct this scene in their heads to check off all the shots that mimic the original, subverted neatly of course, and probably miss what else is on show. That's why theatres should play this before every screening, so we can catch it all through repetition.
I'm not sure precisely what the rest of the cast are supposed to be, beyond people who find people who run through the litany of movie faux pas. The credits call them the Noisician Coalition and their website describes them as 'a loosely confederated alliance of very loud people, including, but not limited to, The Krewe of Joyful Noise, The Buttonmen, The Big NONO, The Spasmodic Marching All-Stars, Vermillion Lies and other shadowy organizations about whom little, if anything, is known.' They're what New Orleans is all about and they must liven up those 430 party days a year that they celebrate in the Big Easy. Their costumes are awesome, an unholy hybrid of marching band, steampunk and Día de los Muertos, along with half a dozen other fashion trends neatly subverted into something wildly original. They should be cloned and paid to accompany this PSA before every screening at every theatre in the country. It won't be tough. They're from New Orleans; we can pay them in beads, right?

Cell Phone Psycho can be watched for free at Vimeo.

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