Reviewbr> "Frank Bannister I'm going to give you the greatest night of your life" - Veronica
Frank Bannister is a highly successful horror writer who lives a reclusive existence since his wife left him. Frank drinks like a fish, writes gore filled prose, and refuses to have anything to do with anyone outside his apartment. Naturally this doesn't include giving his wife and her new boyfriend, Richard, late night drunken phone calls. Hey always a good idea to phone your ex after consuming a bottle of single malt.
One dark and stormy night Frank passes out in an armchair in a drunken stoper only to be awoken by Tammy, a hyper active burlesque dancer who has decided to give her friend Veronica a birthday present involving a bit of Bannister apartment invasion. Naturally Veronica shows up as Tammy takes a shower, and Frank could be made in the shade. Things take a more sinister turn as Veronica promises Frank the greatest night of his life, which unfortunately didn't involve threesomes, shaving foam, and Llamas. Frank is about to discover how it feels to be a character in one of his books.
Dominic Deacon's second movie for Dank Films follows a similar path to his first movie, Bad Habits, in presenting a plot where nothing is quite as it seems. Deacon works off the surrealistic, blending in Ozploitation in a meaningful way, as well as horror aesthetics. While the Director/Writer is once again constrained by a small budget there's enough on display to indicate the Film Finance people should throw him a decent budget and stop wasting their money on movies no one is overly interested in. Glue sniffing Kooris might be the darlings of the Wine and Cheese set, but quite frankly International audiences are not interested, and the average Aussie punter is getting pissed off with the trend. Dominic Deacon joins a growing list of Independent Directors making excellent movies that need larger budgets and wider Audiences. Quite frankly the future of Aussie cinema is not in the half arsed efforts like Jindabyne the future is in movies like Burlesque. Soapbox shoved behind the sofa again.
I should point out before going much further that here we're talking a grilling tension laid experience for the movie audience rather than that lame ego ridden musical Boredwood crashed and burned with.
Deacon hits the horror foundations with a straight aim, we have the normal world, if you call a near alcoholic successful horror writer of the Brett McBean kind normal, that is rent asunder with the arrival of chaos in the form of burlesque performers Tammy and Veronica. Frank seems quite happy to stumble through life in a drunken haze, but is about to find the hard cold flesh of reality is more enticing as presented by the hyper active Tammy and the seductive Veronica. Or are we talking reality? - if you are a veteran of Dominic Deacon movies, okay you have seen the first one, then you know not all is as it appears. Deacon seemingly delights in unfolding nightmarish scenarios that fold back in upon themselves, showing the same scene from completely different viewpoints, it's pretty effective dark genre movie making of the intellectual kind that should have serious dark genre fans baying at the moon.
Once again Dominic Deacon presents a slice of surrealistic horror that will have you questioning your own terms of reference.
While Veronica and Tammy may kick things off in playful mode, Veronica's impromptu striptease is a highlight of the first act of the movie, things soon take a more sinister turn as the girls become deadly serious in getting Frank to face what his latest book is actually about. Tammy in demented mode down in the parking garage had me nodding my head in approval, though it has to be said Deacon is restrained by his budget from really nailing the scene. Slight detour, anyone else wondering if bald dudes with their throats slit is becoming a Dominic Deacon trademark? It's like Hitchcock used to have small cameos in his movies, Deacon has bald dudes lying around the place dead. Sorry, back to the single malt, Veronica and Tammy clearly have a different agenda to Frank's imagined sex it up high fantasies.
Deacon could have left it right there but delves into supernatural elements as things hit fans, and the blood starts flowing. Veronica and Tammy keep appearing in places they can't be given the supposed timeline of the movie. Full respect for Deacon on the mask on Frank's lounge room wall yo, it was referenced enough that we all knew it would have a role to play, Deacon not leaving threads hanging, this is very concise movie making without wasted visuals. Naturally not all is as it seems, was it a nightmare? - as the Director amps up the plot twists.
By the third act there's a whole other interpretation of events going down, but unfortunately I can't delve into one of the excellent notions that Burlesque throws the audience's way without giving away a major plot twist. I'm just going to say it's similar to Author intrusion and a certain member of the crew wasn't caught on film in a bathroom by accident. Damn always up for finding the boom mike in frame as well. Deacon throws on more twists and turns than one can reasonably expect from a Swiz army knife.
While Deacon is constrained by his budget in terms of additional cameras, equipment, and post production shenanigans, he sure can do an awesome overhead shot. Once again I would like to see the Director being thrown a larger budget to see just what he can do, I'm expecting something freaking amazing. Actually would love to see Dominic Deacon tackle a Downunder exorcism or haunted house outing, we could get something pretty effective with a solid enough budget going down.
Naturally am running out of words so am not going to be able to do full justice to Burlesque. However would point out that Haydn Evans (Frank Bannister), Christina Hallett (Veronica), and Poppy Cherry (Tammy), are kicking it major in the lead roles, with the support cast also delivering on script requirements. Hallett in particular was an informed casting choice for mine.
Before I forget, the score and soundtrack are well worth dialling in for. Evan Kitchener hit's the score with some solid menace as well as providing a number of trucks for the soundtrack, which of course is above average. Added bonus are numbers by Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, Brothers Grim and the Blue Murders, and Juke Baritone. If you ever run across a soundtrack CD grab a copy and send it my way, there's a beer in it for ya.
Definitely outstaying my welcome here, but have to mention one tight part of the dialogue that had me wondering if Dominic Deacon wasn't beating some political agenda or sending one up. The character of Veronica is given ample room to lay down the sort of attack the horror genre is more used to from hostile elements of the feminist movement. After Tammy gives us her verdict on the genre as a whole, Veronica launches into questioning why Frank's victims are mainly women, why women are presented in various forms of undress, and rounding out with rape as a device to entertain thirteen year old males. Frank is only able to come back with he writes what people want to read. While I can to a certain degree agree with Veronica's reasoning, Eli Roth considered the only way he could make Hostel 2 more effective than the original was by throwing chicks in harm's way in one of the more cringe worthy statements by a modern Director, and let's not even go near a certain scene in The Human Centipede 2 involving barbwire that has fallen foul of our censors for good reason, you're still going to get a strong argument from me in any court in the land proclaiming the dark genre's virtues. Burlesque being a prime candidate for proving why the genre has more than a pinch of virtue. Dominic Deacon is clearly after more than simply telling a camp fire tale after midnight, expect some debates long into the night after your Crew have got down and dirty with Burlesque.
So cause I need to wrap, I could rabbit on about this movie for yonks more, I'm just going to say that I rocked on with Burlesque and have no issues with giving a full recommendation to those reading who like their horror serious. If you are simply in it for gorenography or cheap scares than piss off, you are in the wrong place.
Currently Burlesque is marked down for a February 2012 release Downunder from Dank Films. If having troubles locating a copy then write on in to Dank and the lovely Anna will ensure you are matched up with the movie asap.