Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen X Angst: "Saberfrog" (2010)



What starts out as a slacker road comedy turns into a hardcore science fiction allegory that doesn't quite work out.

Josh (J.D. Edmond) finally leaves his dot-com job, and finds out that his favorite sci-fi author has died. He was obsessed with the "Vanguard Epsilon" series, and now Josh is adrift. He decides to track down his friend Terrance (Reuben Tapp), a stereotypical angry black man now comfortably living with his wife. The pair also take up Terrance's ex Laurel (Liz Mariani), who sings in an awful band, and Canadian underground porn obsessed Bert (John Karyus). The group decide to head to their old campus, looking for closure in their lives, only to discover the liberal arts university has changed as well- you know, suicide cults, mind control, and disembodied voices...the usual.

Markham wrote and directed this film, and it is certainly ambitious. The odd science fiction angle in the final act is hard to comprehend, until the viewer realizes Markham is appealing to the geek culture that goes through life in a state of escapism. Kudos to the screenplay for rounding out these characters very well. You may know some people like this, and some individual scenes stand out. Terrance's one man show and the fate of Josh's computer company are highlights. There are a few obviously improvised scenes that had me wincing, however. Markham's direction is mostly hand-held camerawork, luckily the cast seems game. The music and audio are all clean and done well.

I was curious to see where the film would go, but I didn't expect the ending. You get an animated sequence, some special effects, but I never got a solid sense of what the series of books meant to Josh (the film's title is explained here). The climax is sometimes too preachy, and some of the performances suffer.

While I didn't expect the final third, the first hour of the film was solid enough to slightly recommend "Saberfrog." (* * *) out of five stars.