Saturday, June 01, 2013

30 Days of Nightmares #1: EDMOND (2005)

The Story: William H. Macy's brow-beaten everyman suffers an existential crisis that turns violent.

Expectations: I decided to start this 30-day marathon with another film from Stuart Gordon.  Horror fans know Gordon best for the horror-comedy RE-ANIMATOR and other adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft, but his more recent work has been sadly neglected.  His 2003 film KING OF THE ANTS is one of the most harrowing horror films of the new millennium, and his 2008 film STUCK (which I reviewed in my last "30 Days" marathon) is equally bold.  In fact, I'd say that Gordon has become the most consistently interesting filmmaker among the "masters of horror" crowd.  EDMOND stems from a script by sharp-tongued David Mamet (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS) and unites the filmmaker a stable of talented character actors (Macy, Julia Stiles, Joe Mantegna, George Wendt, Jeffrey Combs).  That said, I can't believe I didn't see this film sooner.

Reaction: Stuart Gordon is making the kind of films that Martin Scorsese was making in the 1970s.  Some might call it "the cinema of loneliness."  Naturalism is just as apt.  The events of EDMOND are unpredictable, the words are acerbic, the tone is gritty to the point of being genuinely shocking.  The story revolves around a deep existential crisis, presented with raw immediacy rather than from an intellectual distance.  In short, this is Stuart Gordon's TAXI DRIVER, transplanting Macy's Quiz Kid Donnie Smith (see MAGNOLIA) into a Hubert Selby novel.  Instead of whimpering "I have so much love to give... I just don't know where to put it," Macy takes action here.  His philosophical musings have real force, and his decisions are irreversible.  The jazz score, floating in and out of the story, suggests a lackadaisical ordinariness to events that shouldn't be ordinary.  As a whole, what the film offers is a haunting worldview that can't be shaken off when the end credits roll.  Love it or hate it, you can't deny that this is powerful storytelling.

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: The obvious candidate is the second murder scene, because it's not the murder itself (or at least not the visualization of the act itself) that makes the impression.  Rather, it is the pervasive sense of inevitability that surrounds the murder.  Reflecting on the overall power of this film, I'm deeply disappointed that Stuart Gordon hasn't made a film since 2008....  

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