Film: Brain Death
Directors: Wl Freeman and John Harrison
Writers: Hesse Deni, Wl Freeman and John Harrison
Starring: Hesse Deni, Elliot Masters and Anders Croft
Now this is a hard one to talk about it. It was shown at the Nightmares Film Festival for its Midwest premiere in my favorite spot as a midnight movie. I’m usually dead by then, especially since I start early in the day watching things, but it tends to hold more thought-provoking works or ones that are just insane. This falls into both categories.
Synopsis: after the disappearance of her girlfriend, a young trans woman meets an ancient evil.
For this, we are following Liv (Hesse Deni). She works at a record store that seems to be progressive. She struggles though that a right-wing, conspiracy theorist comes in and makes her uncomfortable. His name is Johnny (Elliot Masters) and he hosts a wrestling podcast that attacks political correctness among other similar things.
Liv stays in an apartment with another person and video chats with her girlfriend. They haven’t met in person, but the limited time we see them talking, they get along well. Liv shares about how her mother was psychic or something along these lines. Liv seemed to have a touch of this as well. What is interesting here is that her mother believed there’s another world. It is like ours, but there are beings there. They feed on humans and we don’t know they exist. Liv’s mother knew though.
When Liv’s girlfriend disappears, she goes looking for her. She rents a room in the different city and searches. She can’t seem to find any trance. Liv seems to encounter this other world, including this old man, played by Anders Croft, who we see feed on someone earlier on. Is what Liv is experiencing real or just a figment of her imagination to cope with things that she is dealing with as well as the pressures of the real world?
Now that is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to some of the characters. Where I’m going to start is that this is a hard movie to talk about, which tends to be the case for movies in this block of the Nightmares Film Festival. I felt bad because they did a Q and A with a majority of the filmmaking team after this played. There weren’t many questions. It was late and there is too much to digest with this one.
Where I want to start is with the filmmaking aspects. One of the filmmakers learned to corrupt video files. How it is used here is that we will see a sequence play out. It then will go to the beginning and then it is corrupted a bit where the voices are disoriented as well as the images on the screen. It will then go back to corrupt it even more. I loved what they did here. I tried to explain this to my wife, Jaime, but that was difficult. I took this as being that Liv is going through life and it is a blur. Memories that aren’t ‘important’ are difficult to remember. She also needs these to help find her girlfriend, but that is nearly impossible. I also feel that these beings in this other world could be ‘corrupting’ her memory. This was something a bit different that worked for me. The cinematography is also good so I’ll give credit here.
Since I brought them up, I’ll go over to these beings. They never are fully explained. What is interesting is that the old man seems to be removing something that looks like semen and eats it. It is gross in part, but I like this idea that they feed on the essence of humanity. It makes it creepier. I would have liked to know more about them but since our characters don’t know, I can work in the confines of the movie. They looked creepy. I could tell they were wearing masks, but that is fine. The effects were mostly done practical from what I could remember so that’s good. I’m assuming there was also CGI, but I didn’t have problems there.
There is an aspect of the story that I wanted to bring up. Our lead is a trans woman. I thought that Deni did a solid job in her role of Liv. Having had time to sit on this, I would be curious to ask if this role was written for her. I do know that she has a writing credit so they let her flesh things out which is good. Having a character like Johnny allows this to explore living in the world today. Liv tries to enjoy her life, but there is hatred around her. He doesn’t even realize that he’s being offensive. He also doesn’t care. I like what this is exploring and giving me a different perspective. What is interesting as well is that the filmmakers said that Masters isn’t his character in real life. That is impressive to get a reaction out of me so I commend him. Deni was also good in her performance. I’ll give credit to Croft who was creepy as the old man. The rest of the cast was good around them as well.
Since there isn’t much more I can delve into here, I’ll say in conclusion that this is an interesting movie. I like the eerie atmosphere they build. We have a surreal look at Liv in her world and things changing as her girlfriend who is her rock disappears. I love what they did with the editing. That makes it creepier. I think the look of these entities are good. The acting is solid. I do think this is lacking just a bit overall. It does explore interesting things with its lead being a trans woman and navigating the world around her.
My Rating: 7 out of 10