Thursday, May 8, 2014

Good Behavior: "Antisocial Behavior" (2014)

The tortured artist as a character in a story may be a predictable one, but this film effectively shows us the reasons behind the torture.

Joe (Jackson Kuehn) is a frustrated artist rooming with Scott (Chad Bishop). Scott and Joe grew up together in an orphanage, and Scott still looks out for his moody friend. While grudgingly attending a party, Joe meets Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Boylan). Wendy takes a liking to the morose man, and after she leaves, Joe is recruited into a 'Truth or Dare"-style drinking game. During the game, when asked what the baddest, most evil thing is that he has done, Joe flips out, hallucinating, and cutting his hand open. This begins a series of events, as Joe starts vomiting up giant balls of flesh, and having visions to repressed memories of his life before ending up at the orphanage.

Kuehn, as Joe, is perfectly cast. Joe is definitely odd, and Kuehn is able to make him both sympathetic and menacing, sometimes in the same scene, just by changing his facial expression. The script, by director Kenneth Guertin and Chris Perdue, put Joe in almost every scene and Kuehn is up to the task.

For a film with a small budget, Guertin does an outstanding job as both director and editor. The story travels along fast, punctuated with some genuinely frightening imagery. Guertin doesn't seem to hide behind his small production, he goes for the scare over the money. The climactic revelations make sense, and the final kicker is delightfully creepy.

Technically, the film is almost flawless. The cinematography is fresh, the sound recording is excellent, and the cast is great. My dithers mostly concern Wendy's unquestioned dedication to Joe after just meeting him, and how her behavior toward him could be construed as odd if he wasn't such an emotional wreck himself. I know of "love at first sight," but many scenes involving Joe and Wendy made me expect more to Wendy's backstory than what we are given, which ain't much.

"Antisocial Behavior"is a prime example of great psychological horror. Seeing that horror spill out of Joe's head (literally) and into our own minds is pretty terrifying. (* * * *) out of five stars.