|A NECESSARY DEATH
(director/writer: Daniel Stamm; cinematographer: Zoltan Honti;
Kashevaroff/Shilpa Sahi; music: Morgan Kibby/Jonathan Leahy;
cast: Gilbert John
Echternkamp (Gilbert), Matt Tilley (Matt), Valerie Hurt (Valerie), Michael
Traynor (Michael), Daniel
Stamm (Daniel), Pamela Salem (Matt's mom), Konima Parkinson-Jones (Konima); Runtime:
101; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Brian Udovich/Gilbert John
Echternkamp; Film Buff; 2008)
"An experimental faux documentary on the unpleasant subject matter of suicide."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Stamm ("The Last Exorcism") writes and
directs an experimental faux documentary on the
unpleasant subject matter of suicide, on being
part of a voyeuristic society and on trying to
determine what is the responsibility of the filmmaker
in making a documentary.
filmmaker Gilbert (Gilbert John Echternkamp) for his graduation
thesis from a film school in LA, places Craigslist internet ads to find a
suicidal subject willing to be filmed for his student
project film while living out their last few days
until willing to terminate their life on camera. An
eloquent but bland young British expatriate, Matt
(Matt Tilley), is chosen over others interviewed after
he explains he has a cancerous brain tumor that cannot
be operated on and will shortly die a painful slow
roommate, agrees to shoot the crew making the suicide
film. The film crew-- sound technician Val (Valerie Hunt), cinematographer Michael (Michael
Traynor) and director Gilbert--become friendly with the
subject, even meeting his mom (Pamela Salem) at her home. But Gilbert's
has seconds thoughts about the project's ethics and
decides to talk Matt out of killing himself by
becoming his lover even though she doesn't love him.
It works. Matt decides not to go through with the
suicide, which upsets Gilbert because he'll have no
film to turn in for graduation and a slimy media
company in Austin backed-out of producing the film
when told of the new happy ending--which will leave
Gilbert unable to redeem his own money he already put
in the film when the film school refused to fund such
a contentious film.
By the third act most in the audience should be able to figure out this is a fictitious story pretending to be a documentary and with little reason to follow through on its exploitative premise. At that point any feelings for the characters should dissipate, as the pic becomes overwrought in melodramatics and filled with plot contrivances similar to a TV soap opera. Instead of following through in dealing with the controversial issues over suicide, the film turns into a safer yarn that stops trying to understand its subject as if he were a real person and the ersatz story line becomes less compelling and testy and more concerned with its suspenseful twists. Though, in all fairness, Mr. Stamm's "Death" should be commended for at least trying to push the boundaries of film-making for most of the film.
REVIEWED ON 5/31/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ