If you’re one of the innumerable masses that has ever lived in an apartment, you are familiar with that twinge of anxiety that comes with knowing some stranger has gotten into your place while you’ve been away. No, it’s not a criminal of any type, it’s one of the apartment’s personnel. Maybe they’re there to fix something or spray for bugs or do some other kind of routine maintenance, but the whisper of fear is still there. After all, some person who you don’t know has just gotten into where you call home. Quite honestly, I didn’t really experience this feeling until I moved into my most recent place. The first time I had an apartment was when I used to carry a gun for a living and I almost shot the only person I ever found in there.
But that’s a story for another time.
The story right now is the winner of the Bloodie for Best Feature Film at this past weekend’s Blood Bath 2 Film Festival, “the Super”. The second offering from the writing and directing team of Evan Makrogiannis and Brian Weaver, “the Super” introduces us to George (Demetri Kallas) the owner of a run-down apartment building in New York City. George seems like a nice enough guy – he’s genial to his tenants, a family man and a veteran. Still you get that feeling that George might not exactly be firing with a full magazine. It’s not too long before the layers of his façade are pulled away and things get… interesting.
From the opening frame, “the Super” firmly plants its grindhouse roots. From its gritty opening title shot to its simulated reel changes, we are immersed in George’s world and its population of colorful characters. With a lesser collection of actors, this could have easily turned into an extended exercise in eye-rolling. Happily, these actors are up to the task. Kallas is the proverbial storm in a teacup as the wildly fluctuating George as he shows us the frightening vistas of his emotional landscape. Genre veteran Manoush is equal parts menacing and matronly as a Russian dominatrix. Rapper Necro – or as billed here, Ron Braunstein – stars as a dirty cop with a mean streak. Lynn Lowrey (from Romero’s original “the Crazies”) also appears as George’s long-suffering wife.
For the most part, the movie is as strong as the cast. I loved the cinematography – especially the parts where their emulation of grindhouse style was near flawless. The acting, as I’ve mentioned before, was great. The story was generally strong, though some parts didn’t flow as well as I would have hoped. In some cases, it seemed like there was a distinct demarcation that I personally found distracting, and there were other parts (bits of exposition and a couple of “pet the dog” scenes) that I thought could probably have been removed to make things just a teensy bit tighter. Neither problem was bad enough to torpedo the film, but I did find myself looking at my watch a couple of times. Despite that, Makrogiannis and Weaver created a very tangible, very rough world that leaves its dirt under your fingernails and its damp stale air in your lungs.
“The Super”, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a distribution deal yet, so you’re going to have to keep your eye peeled for it on the festival circuit. It’s a nice bit of cooking for the homesick grindhouse fan. It’s not exactly how Mom used to make it, but it’s close enough to be appreciated.